Both Maternal, Paternal Substance Use Disorder Tied to Offspring Intellectual Disability

Authors say preventive efforts should focus on fathers, too

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MONDAY, Sept. 18, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Both paternal and maternal substance use disorder (SUD) are associated with an increased risk for intellectual disability in offspring, according to a study published in the September issue of eClinicalMedicine.

Lotfi Khemiri, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues examined the relationship between maternal and paternal SUD (including alcohol use disorder [AUD] and drug use disorder) and the risk for intellectual disability in offspring. The analysis included 1.9 million children born in Sweden from 1978 through 2002.

The researchers found that parental SUD prior to birth was associated with an increased risk for any form of intellectual disability (odds ratio [OR], 2.3), with similar risk seen for maternal (OR, 2.3) and paternal (OR, 2.3) SUD. When adjusting for parental education, migration, psychiatric comorbidity, and coparent SUD, risk was reduced but remained significant (OR parental SUD, 1.6; OR maternal SUD, 1.4; OR paternal SUD, 1.6). The association between parental SUD and intellectual disability risk in offspring persisted irrespective of timing of diagnosis. However, if mothers or fathers were diagnosed with AUD during pregnancy (OR maternal AUD, 5.0; OR paternal AUD, 2.8), the risk was significantly greater than if the AUD diagnosis was first registered after childbirth (OR maternal AUD, 1.9; OR paternal AUD, 1.6).

"Preventative measures, such as educating health care professionals and public health recommendations, have focused for decades on mothers with alcohol-related problems," Khemiri said in a statement. "Our findings highlight the importance of also directing such measures towards fathers with different types of substance use disorder."

Abstract/Full Text

Lori Solomon

Lori Solomon

Medically reviewed by Mark Arredondo, M.D.

Published on September 18, 2023

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