OBJECTIVE: This study attempted to determine whether lack of breast-feeding or a short duration of breast-feeding during infancy is associated with an elevated risk of hospitalization with alcohol-related diagnoses in adult life. METHOD: The study was a prospective longitudinal birth cohort design conducted in a sample of 6,562 men and women, all of whom were born in Copenhagen, Denmark, between October 1959 and December 1961. The sample was divided into two categories based on duration of breast-feeding, as assessed by a physician interview with mothers at a 1-year examination. Psychiatric hospitalizations with alcohol-related diagnoses according to ICD-8 or ICD-10 were identified in the Danish Psychiatric Central Register in 1999. Nine potential confounders were included as covariates: gender of the cohort member, maternal age, parental social status, maternal prenatal smoking, unwanted pregnancy, maternal and paternal psychiatric hospitalization with alcohol-related diagnosis, and maternal and paternal psychiatric hospitalization with other diagnosis. RESULTS: Alcohol-related diagnoses were more frequent in men, but the results were comparable for men and women. The adjusted predictive effect of early weaning was 1.47. Elevated relative risks were also associated with maternal smoking during pregnancy (1.52) and unwanted pregnancy status (1.59). Other independent predictors were male gender, maternal psychiatric hospitalization with alcohol-related diagnosis, and low parental social status. CONCLUSIONS: Independent of a number of other risk factors for alcoholism, a significant association between early weaning and elevated risk of hospitalization with alcohol-related diagnoses was observed.
Keywords: Adult; Alcohol-Related Disorders; Cohort Studies; Denmark; Family Health; Female; Hospitalization; Humans; Infant; Infant, Newborn; Longitudinal Studies; Male; Pregnancy; Pregnancy Complications; Pregnancy, Unwanted; Prospective Studies; Risk Factors; Sex Factors; Smoking; Social Class; Time Factors; Weaning