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Keywords:

  • mortality;
  • alcoholism;
  • risk;
  • longitudinal

Objective:  This prospective high-risk study examined the influence of father's alcoholism and other archival-generated measures on premature death.

Method:  Sons of alcoholic fathers (n = 223) and sons of non-alcoholic fathers (n = 106) have been studied from birth to age 40. Archival predictors of premature death included father's alcoholism, childhood developmental data, and diagnostic information obtained from the Psychiatric Register and alcoholism clinics.

Results:  By age 40, 21 of the 329 subjects had died (6.4%), a rate that is more than two times greater than expected. Sons of alcoholic fathers were not more likely to die by age 40. Premature death was associated with physical immaturity at 1-year of age and psychiatric/alcoholism treatment. No significant interactions were found between risk and archival measures.

Conclusion:  Genetic vulnerability did not independently predict death at age 40. Death was associated with developmental immaturities and treatment for a psychiatric and/or substance abuse problem.