Parents who are alcoholics are more likely to pass on their addictive personality to their children, US researchers have found.
Researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University found that teenagers with a family history of alcoholism were much more likely to act impulsively a trait of alcohol abuse, the UK's Daily Mail reported.
While environmental factors are known to increase the risk of alcoholism, this study suggests that personality and behaviour also contribute.
"While having a family history of alcoholism may put one at greater risk for alcohol abuse, personality and behavioural risk factors are also important to consider," said lead researcher Dr Bonnie Nagel.
"The combination of genetic and environmental factors is very different for everyone, so some individuals may be at higher risk than others."
In the study, two groups of adolescents aged 13-15 one with a family history of alcoholism (FHA) and one without had their brain monitored while performing a "Wheel of Fortune" decision-making task.
The FHA group was found to have much weaker responses when making risky decisions in areas of the brain vital in attention, working memory and inhibition.
"We believe that weaker activation of these brain areas, known to be important for optimal decision making, may confer vulnerability towards risky decisions with regards to future alcohol use in adolescents already at risk for alcoholism," said Dr Nagel.
Researchers hope the findings will help develop more effective prevention strategies and treatment for those most at risk.
The findings are published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.