Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic Risk For Substance Use Can Be Neutralized By Good Parenting

Date:
February 16, 2009
Source:
University of Georgia
Summary:
A genetic risk factor that increases the likelihood that youth will engage in substance use can be neutralized by high levels of involved and supportive parenting, according to a new study.

A genetic risk factor that increases the likelihood that youth will engage in substance use can be neutralized by high levels of involved and supportive parenting, according to a new University of Georgia study.

The study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, is the first to examine a group of youth over time to see how a genetic risk factor interacts with a child’s environment to influence behavior.

“We found that involved and supportive parenting can completely override the effects of a genetic risk for substance abuse,” says study co-author Gene Brody, Regents Professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “It’s a very encouraging finding that shows the power of parenting.”

Brody and his colleagues, which include UGA Institute for Behavioral Research director Steven Beach and University of Iowa Associate Professor of Psychiatry Robert Philibert, focused their attention on a gene known as 5HTT that’s involved in the transport of the brain chemical serotonin. Most people carry two copies of the long version of the gene, but those with one or two copies of the short version have been shown in several studies to have a greater likelihood of consuming alcohol and other substances and to have higher levels of impulsivity and risk taking.

The researchers interviewed 253 African-American families in rural Georgia over a four-year period. After obtaining informed consent from the parents and youth, they collected saliva samples for genetic testing.

The researchers found that nearly 60 percent of the youth had two copies of the long gene, while the remainder had one or two copies of the short gene that confers risk. As expected, the use of substances was low among 11 year-olds and increased as the youth aged. By age 14, 21 percent of the youth had smoked cigarettes, 42 percent had used alcohol, five percent had drank heavily and five percent had used marijuana.

Among youth with the genetic risk factor, those who received low levels of involved and supportive parenting increased their substance use at rate three times higher than youth with high levels of parental support. Among youth with high levels of involved and supportive parenting, the difference in substance abuse was negligible – regardless of genetic risk.

“In families that were characterized by strong relationships between children and their parents, the effect of the genetic risk was essentially zero,” said Beach, who is also a Distinguished Research Professor in the psychology department of the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “With this study and previous studies looking at environmental risk factors such as poverty, we’re finding that in many cases the best way to help children is to help families become more resilient.”

Involved and supportive parenting is a very powerful tool, and Brody said it’s relatively simple to implement. Some examples include regularly spending time with your child, communicating with them so that you can gauge how they’re doing, providing emotional support and helping them with their material and day-to-day needs such as homework.

“We all carry around genetic risks,” said Brody, who also directs the UGA Center for Family Research, a unit of the IBR, “but fortunately very few people are impacted by those risks because their environment protects them.”

The research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute on Mental Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Georgia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Georgia. "Genetic Risk For Substance Use Can Be Neutralized By Good Parenting." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210125437.htm>.
University of Georgia. (2009, February 16). Genetic Risk For Substance Use Can Be Neutralized By Good Parenting. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210125437.htm
University of Georgia. "Genetic Risk For Substance Use Can Be Neutralized By Good Parenting." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210125437.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins