The study, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence at the start of Alcohol Awareness Week (11 – 17 November) strengthens the evidence for a relationship between anxiety and later alcohol use as the researchers accounted for other factors such as adolescent smoking and cannabis use, and parental anxiety and alcohol use. Researchers used a longitudinal design to help disentangle the order of associations between generalised anxiety disorder and alcohol use. They also tested whether drinking to cope, a motive for drinking alcohol, influenced these associations. Using questionnaire and clinical interview data from more than 2000 participants, they found generalised anxiety disorder at age 18 was linked to frequent drinking, frequent bingeing, hazardous drinking, and harmful drinking at age 18. Generalised anxiety disorder continued to be associated with harmful drinking at age 21. Drinking to cope was also strongly associated with more harmful drinking, but it did not appear to influence associations between anxiety and alcohol use.Harmful drinking was measured using a special test developed by the World Health Association. On average, adolescents with anxiety drank at more harmful levels regardless of whether they tended to drink alcohol for coping reasons or not. Maddy Dyer, PhD student at the University of Bristol, commented: “Our most important finding was that the relationship between generalised anxiety disorder and harmful drinking at age 18 persists into early adulthood. Helping adolescents to develop positive strategies for coping with anxiety, instead of drinking alcohol, may reduce the risk of future harmful drinking. However, we cannot determine if the relationship is causal, because we used an observational study design.” Mark Leyshon, Senior Policy and Research Manager at Alcohol Change UK, said: “Our own research has shown that links between mental health problems, such as anxiety disorders, and alcohol are common and complex. For example, anxiety can be both a result of stopping drinking and a risk factor in beginning to drink too much, as this new study suggests. “We need more research to help us better understand the connections between alcohol and mental health,as well as high-quality, accessible, integrated support for substance misuse and mental health issues.” Source: University of Bristol, Full bibliographic information ‘Alcohol use in late adolescence and early adulthood: The role of generalised anxiety disorder and drinking to cope motives’ by Maddy Dyer, Jon Heron, Matthew Hickman, and Marcus Munafò, in Drug and Alcohol Dependence
Children who are born preterm or at very low birth weight have similar temperament difficulties as children who were institutionally deprived early in life
Researchers have found that a child’s temperament is sensitive to experiences in the early stages of life
A link between these different adverse experiences in early life and similar childhood temperament means that increasing a child’s self-control may be an important target to prevent later developmental problems
A child’s temperament is affected by the early stages of their life. Researchers from the University of Warwick, the University of Tennessee, University of Southampton and Kings College London have found children who were born very preterm (under 32 weeks gestation) or very low birthweight (under 1500g) had similar temperamental difficulties in controlling their impulses, to children who experienced institutional deprivation.
The paper ‘A Comparison of the Effects of Preterm Birth and Institutional Deprivation on Child Temperament’, published in the journal Development and Psychopathology highlights how different adverse experiences such as preterm birth and institutional deprivation affect children’s temperament in similar ways, resulting in greater risk for lower self-control.
The team of researchers, from the University of Warwick, University of Tennessee, University of Southampton and King’s College London looked at children who were born very preterm, or very low birth weight from the Bavarian Longitudinal study, and children who experienced at least six months of institutional deprivation – a lack of adequate, loving caregivers – in Romanian institutions from the English and Romanian Adoptees study, who were then compared to 311 healthy term born children and 52 non-deprived adoptees, respectively.
The researchers found that both groups of children had lower effortful control at 6 years.
This is the first study that directly compares the effects of severe preterm birth and extended institutional deprivation, and suggests that self-control interventions early in life may promote the development of children after both risk experiences.
Prof Dieter Wolke from the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick comments: “Both, early care either in an incubator or deprivation and neglect in an orphanage lead to poor effortful control. We need to further determine how this early deprivation alters the brain.”
Lucia Miranda Reyes, from the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee comments: “These findings suggest that children’s poor effortful control may underlie long-term social problems associated with early adverse experiences; thus, improving their self-control may also help prevent these later problems.”
Source: University of Warwick,
Full bibliographic information
Paper Title: A Comparison of the effects of preterm birth and institutional deprivation on child temperament
Journal: Development and Psychopathology