Maternal Problem Drinking and Child Mental Health.


BACKGROUND: Offspring of individuals with alcohol use disorders have been shown to have elevated risk for mental health problems. OBJECTIVES: To examine the association between maternal problem drinking and child mental health as assessed by three informants in three European countries. METHODS: Data were drawn from the School Child Mental Health in Europe study. Maternal alcohol use was assessed using the alcohol use disorders identification test. Child mental health was assessed using the mother and teacher versions of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire, and the child self-reported Dominic interactive. Analyses were performed on 2,678 individuals, 6-11 year olds. RESULTS: Adjusting for variables associated with maternal drinking, among children eight years old or younger, excessive drinking was not significantly associated with mental health problems, whether reported by the mother, teacher or by the child. However, among girls eight years old and above, problem drinking was associated with conduct problems as reported by the mother (OR = 4.19), teacher reported total difficulties (OR = 4.69), and peer relationship problems (OR = 8.86). It was also associated with the presence of any child-reported disorder (OR = 3.88), externalizing (OR = 5.55) and internalizing disorders (OR = 4.42). Conclusions/Importance: Adjusting for sociodemographic variables and for psychological distress, maternal problem drinking was not significantly associated with child mental health problems in boys or in girls ages six to eight. The association was only present among girls ages 8-11. Examining relationships between mothers and their daughters in the peripubertal period may be a critical window for the development of effective intervention strategies.