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Family history of alcoholism influences reaction to advice

A john Hopkins study reveals that women with a strong family history of alcoholism are more likely to ignore advice on caffeine consumption during pregnancy.// The above factor plus a serious caffeine habit were the hurdles to compliance.

"Results of this study suggest that genetic vulnerability reflected in a family history of alcoholism may also be at the root of the inability to stop caffeine use," said co-lead author Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D., a professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"This study helps to validate the diagnosis of caffeine dependence as a clinically significant phenomenon," Griffiths said. "It's one thing to speculate how powerful the dependence is, but here we have an example of people who are not following physician recommendations and are unable to quit caffeine in spite of wanting to do so."

For the Hopkins-led study, a lifetime diagnosis of caffeine dependence was established using criteria listed in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

Fifty-seven percent had a lifetime diagnosis of caffeine dependence, and 52 percent reported having a family history of alcoholism. Thirty-two percent had both risk factors, and 23 percent had neither.

According to Griffiths the small number of subjects and the homogeneous nature of the population are limitations of the study. He said replicating the study using a larger and more heterogeneous group of subjects would be valuable.


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