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Dire Legacy

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Children born to alcoholic parents also have to carry the burden of addiction, reports T.V. Jayan.

Alcohol abuse by parents leads to poor attention and learning skills in children

Alcoholics beware. You are not only doing great harm to yourself, but are also putting your next generation in danger.

A study by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) in Bangalore found that if one or more members of the immediate family are suffering from alcohol dependence syndrome, chances are that children born in that family will have slower brain growth, often resulting in learning disability, attention deficit, poor judgement skill and an impulsive nature. Besides, their susceptibility to alcohol and substance abuse later in life will be 20 times more than that of normal children.

Nimhans psychiatrist Vivek Benegal and his colleagues spotted a lag in the brain development of children born to addicted parents. “There is a substantial delay in the growth of certain frontal areas of the brain in such children compared to others. But this gap tends to narrow as they approach adolescence and adulthood,” Benegal told KnowHow. “The difference is seen to be maximum in 10-year-old kids.”

The volume of grey matter may ultimately catch up with that of their peers, but the damage may already be done as they continue to be disoriented, disobedient and unruly because their attention and learning skills are compromised.

Those who have a craving for alcohol, suffer withdrawal symptoms and drink liquor, even ignoring their job and family, are said to be suffering from alcohol dependence syndrome. Such people not only pass on their alcohol addiction but also put their offspring in a much broader risk that could mar their education, career and family life, Benegal observes.

Benegal, however, thinks there is still hope for such children. The parents can always put in that extra effort to reduce the effect of the “legacy” as they grow, he says. “Little things like eating together, regulating the children’s television time and having a role model in the family can work wonders,” he feels.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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