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Research Summary

Vitamin K May Reduce Risk of Alcohol Dependence

Vitamin K helps prevent brain injury in newborns. If alcohol dependence is associated with brain development in infancy, giving babies vitamin K might reduce their future risk of dependence. To explore this possibility, researchers studied a 30-year prospective cohort of male infants in Denmark.

Of 238 men, 18% had received 1 mg of vitamin K intramuscularly at birth, 16% had alcohol dependence (assessed at age 30), and 68% had fathers with alcohol dependence. Receipt of vitamin K was not significantly associated with gestational age, birth weight, birth complications, or signs of neurological impairment at birth.

  • Only 5% of men who had received vitamin K at birth had alcohol dependence compared with 18% of men who had not received the vitamin.
  • In an analysis adjusted for birth weight and having a father with alcohol dependence, men who had received vitamin K had significantly fewer symptoms of alcohol dependence.

Comments:

The results of this analysis suggest that perinatal brain injury (e.g., hemorrhage, which is now much less common due to universal administration of vitamin K to neonates) increases the risk of alcohol dependence. These results also imply that preventive interventions that reduce neurological trauma early in life may lower vulnerability to dependence later.

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH

Reference:

Manzardo AM, Penick EC, Knop J, et al. Neonatal vitamin K might reduce vulnerability to alcohol dependence in Danish men. J Stud Alcohol. 2005;66:586–592.


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