Psychopathology and Achievement in Children at High Risk for Developing Alcoholism
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OBJECTIVE: To compare rates of psychopathology and academic achievement in children who were either at high or low risk for developing alcoholism and to determine whether academic deficits would predict prospectively the presence of psychopathology occurring within the next year. METHOD: Children and adolescents, aged 8 to 18 years, were evaluated as part of a longitudinal follow-up. Diagnoses obtained by using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children and grade-equivalent scores from the reading, spelling, and arithmetic sections of the Wide Range Achievement Test were determined at yearly intervals. RESULTS: High-risk offspring were more likely to have a diagnosable disorder. In addition, analyses using the mother's and father's diagnosis of alcoholism as a covariate showed higher hazard ratios for selected disorders (depression, affective disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and conduct disorder), some of which were gender-dependent. Logistic regression analysis of achievement test scores demonstrated that reading and math scores predicted the presence of childhood psychopathology at the following annual evaluation. CONCLUSIONS: Children from pedigrees with a high density of alcoholism are at greater risk for developing psychopathology. Furthermore, observed deficits in academic performance may be considered an indicator of a developing diagnosable illness.
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