Koustubh R. Bagul1, Ashish Saboo2, Monika K. Bagul3

BACKGROUND: Children of parents with alcohol dependence syndrome are particularly at high risk of emotional and behavioral problems such as learning disability, hyperactivity, psychomotor delays, somatic symptoms and emotional problems. Neuropsychological functions in these children have been the focus of attention over the last decade. AIM: Aim of this study was to compare the nature and extent of behavioral and cognitive problems in children of men with and without alcohol dependence.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Children of patients with Alcohol Dependence Syndrome, with no known psychiatric illness; aged between 5 and 10 years (Both male & female); with mother having GHQ scores less than 4, formed the study group and control group formed by the children of normal. 108 such Children (54 in Study group and 54 in Control group) were evaluated for psychopathology, neuro development and cognitive functioning. Tools used were: DSM IV criteria for diagnosis of Alcohol Dependence Syndrome, Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire, General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28), and Socio-demographic data sheet, Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – IV (WISC-IV), Trail Making Test (TMT) and Neurodevelopment Scale.

RESULTS: Behavioral, emotional difficulties and Neuro developmental deficits are commonly seen in children of alcohol-dependent parents as they scored statistically significant high scores on Neurodevelopmental Scale, Externalizing subscale and a marginal high score on Internalizing Subscale of CBCL. On the WISC-IV, there was a statistically significant difference in various subtests and indices including verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, processing speed and total intellectual quotient; indicating a global dysfunction. On the TMT, children of alcohol-dependent parents took as much time to do the task as the control group but tended to make more errors and this difference is statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: The current findings indicate that children of alcohol-dependent father are at increased risk for behavioral, emotional and cognitive deficits. Overall intellectual capacity and functioning in the areas of verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, processing speed was severely impaired in these children. Also they had more difficulty with Neurodevelopment tasks and frontal lobe functions.