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The impact of parenthood on risk of registration for alcohol use disorder in married individuals: a Swedish population-based analysis

  • Kenneth S. Kendler (a1) (a2) (a3), Sara Larsson Lönn (a4), Jessica E. Salvatore (a1) (a5), Jan Sundquist (a4) (a6) (a7) and Kristina Sundquist (a4) (a6) (a7)...



Although being married with children is associated with a reduced rate of alcohol use disorder (AUD), is this finding independent of a marital effect, different in mothers and fathers and potentially causal in effect.


Using Cox proportional hazards, we examined, in 1 252 237 married individuals, the association between a resident younger and older child and risk for AUD registration in national medical, criminal, and pharmacy registers. Using logistic regression, we analyzed, in 600 219 parents, within-person models comparing risk for AUD prior to first pregnancy v. with young children. We examined whether risk for AUD in 1302 parents after a first spousal AUD registration was reduced by having a young resident child.


Compared with childless married individuals, resident younger children were associated with a reduced risk for AUD in mothers [hazard ratio (HR) 0.36, 95% confidence interval 0.31–0.41] and fathers (HR 0.66, 0.60–0.73). The reduced risk was attenuated but still significant for older children. Within-person models confirmed the protective effect of young children in mothers [odds ratio (OR) 0.49, 0.30–0.80] but yielded inconclusive results in fathers (OR 0.85, 0.58–1.25). After a first spousal registration for AUD, a resident young child was associated with a substantial reduction in risk for mothers and a weaker marginal effect in fathers.


In married individuals, resident children are associated with a reduction in basal risk for AUD which is stronger in mothers than fathers and with younger v. older children. This effect is also evident during high-risk periods. In mothers, our results are consistent with a largely causal effect.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Kenneth S. Kendler, E-mail:


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