Parental alcohol use disorder and offspring marital outcomes

Jessica E. Salvatore, Sara Larsson Lönn, Elizabeth C. Long, Jan Sundquist, Kenneth S. Kendler, Kristina Sundquist, Alexis C. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aims: We tested whether parental alcohol use disorder (AUD) predicted adult offspring's likelihood of marriage and marriage to an AUD-affected spouse; whether effects differed as a function of the sex or number of affected parents; and whether they were robust to confounders. Design: Sex-stratified Cox and logistic regression models. Setting: Sweden. Participants: A total of 1 171 070 individuals (51.40% male) born 1965–75. Measurements: Obtained from legal, medical and pharmacy registries. Predictor was parent AUD. Outcomes were marriage and spouse AUD. Adjustments included offspring birth year and AUD; and parental education, marriage, divorce, criminal behavior and drug abuse. Findings: Male and female offspring of AUD-affected parents were more likely to marry at younger ages (< 25), illustrative unadjusted hazard ratio (HR)age 20 = 1.22 (1.17, 1.28) and 1.34 (1.20, 1.39) and were less likely to marry at older ages (> 25), HRage 30 = 0.79 (0.78, 0.81) and 0.82 (0.81, 0.84). Parental AUD was associated with higher odds of having an affected spouse for males and females, odds ratio (OR) = 1.47 (1.38, 1.57) and 1.63 (1.56, 1.70). Effects were more pronounced for those with two versus one AUD-affected parent and adjustments attenuated effects negligibly. Daughters of affected mothers (versus fathers) were more likely to have AUD-affected husbands, OR = 1.68 (1.54, 1.84) versus 1.56 (1.48, 1.64), while there was no difference in sons. Conclusions: In Sweden, parental alcohol use disorder (AUD) is associated with a higher probability of marriage at younger ages, a lower probability of marriage at older ages and a higher likelihood of marriage to an affected spouse compared with no parental AUD. Most of these effects become stronger when the number of AUD-affected parents increases from one to two, and most effects hold after controlling for parents’ socio-economic status, marital history, other externalizing disorders and offspring's own AUD status. Daughters of affected mothers are more likely to have an affected spouse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-91
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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