16 October 2015 In Pregnant Women

BACKGROUND: Deficits in information processing may be a core deficit after fetal alcohol exposure. This study was designed to investigate the possible effects of weekly low to moderate maternal alcohol consumption and binge drinking episodes in early pregnancy on choice reaction time (CRT) and information processing time (IPT) in young children.

METHOD: Participants were sampled based on maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. At the age of 60-64 months, 1,333 children were administered a modified version of the Sternberg paradigm to assess CRT and IPT. In addition, a test of general intelligence (WPPSI-R) was administered.

RESULTS: Adjusted for a wide range of potential confounders, this study showed no significant effects of average weekly maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy on CRT or IPT. There was, however, an indication of slower CRT associated with binge drinking episodes in gestational weeks 1-4.

CONCLUSION: This study observed no significant effects of average weekly maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy on CRT or IPT as assessed by the Sternberg paradigm. However, there were some indications of CRT being associated with binge drinking during very early pregnancy. Further large-scale studies are needed to investigate effects of different patterns of maternal alcohol consumption on basic cognitive processes in offspring.

28 August 2015 In Pregnant Women

OBJECTIVE: Epidemiologic studies have reported conflicting results regarding maternal alcohol consumption before and during pregnancy, and the risk of congenital heart defects (CHDs). However, a systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between maternal alcohol consumption and CHDs in offspring has not been conducted.

DESIGN: We searched MEDLINE and EMBASE for articles catalogued between their inception and February 16, 2015; we identified relevant published studies that assessed the association between maternal alcohol consumption and CHD risk. Two authors independently assessed the eligibility of the retrieved articles and extracted data from them. Study-specific relative risk estimates were pooled by random-effects or fixed-effects models.

RESULTS: From the 1527 references, a total of 19 case-control studies and four cohort studies were enrolled in this meta-analysis. The summary of 23 studies related to CHDs indicated an overall pooled relative risk of 1.13 (95% confidence interval: 0.96, 1.29) among mothers drinking before or during pregnancy. Statistically significant heterogeneity was detected (Q = 196.61, P < .001, I2 = 88.8%) with no publication bias (Egger's test: P = .157). We conducted stratified and meta-regression analyses to identify the origin of the heterogeneity among studies.

CONCLUSION: In summary, this meta-analysis provided no positive association between maternal alcohol consumption and risk of CHDs.

28 August 2015 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Sipping alcohol is common during early adolescence, but research has ignored the distinction between sipping and drinking whole alcohol beverages, conflating the 2, or else simply classifying "sippers" as abstainers. Research has not addressed whether sippers are different to drinkers, in relation to variables known to be associated with adolescent alcohol consumption, or considered whether sipping and drinking behaviors may have quite different associations.

METHODS: Parent-child dyads (N = 1,823) were recruited in 3 states from Australian grade 7 classes. Multinomial logistic analyses compared adolescents who had only had a sip/taste of alcohol (sippers) with adolescents who had consumed at least a whole drink (drinkers) in the past 6 months. The multivariate model assessed a broad range of demographics, parenting practices, peer influences, and adolescent externalizing and internalizing behaviors, and controlled for school clustering.

RESULTS: Compared to drinkers, sippers were less likely to come from 1-parent households (odds ratio [OR] = 0.59, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.35 to 0.98); less likely to come from low-socioeconomic status (SES) households (OR = 0.54, 95% CI: 0.31 to 0.94); more likely to come from families where parents provide stricter alcohol-specific rules (OR = 1.21, 95% CI: 1.11 to 1.32), stricter monitoring of the child's activities (OR = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.16), more consistent parenting practices (OR = 1.13, 95% CI: 1.05 to 1.23), and more positive family relationships (OR = 1.56, 95% CI: 1.02 to 2.43); and report having fewer substance-using peers (OR = 0.80, 95% CI: 0.70 to 0.91) and greater peer disapproval of any substance use (OR = 1.30, 95% CI: 1.19 to 1.42). After adjustment for confounders, the associations with household composition and SES were no longer significant, but the familial and peer associations remained significant in the multivariate analysis, chi2 (40) = 1,493.06, p < 0.001.

CONCLUSIONS: Sipping alcohol has different associations with known predictors of adolescent alcohol use than drinking whole beverages, and sipping may be a distinct or separable behavior. Future research should better define quantities of early consumption and assess the relationship between early sipping and drinking on long-term outcomes separately.

23 July 2015 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

PURPOSE: To estimate the prevalence of alcohol use at the age of 10-11 years and document variation by early sociodemographic and concurrent alcohol-specific risk factors.

METHODS: The Millennium Cohort Study is a prospective, nationally representative study of live births in the United Kingdom across 12 months. A random sample of electoral wards was stratified to adequately represent U.K. countries, economically deprived areas, and areas with high concentrations of Asian and Black British families. A total of 12,305 child-mother pairs provided self-report data at 9 months (mother's marital status, age, education, occupational level; child gender, ethnicity, country) and age 10-11 years (adolescent alcohol use and attitudes).

RESULTS: After adjusting for attrition and sampling design, 13.4% of 10- to 11-year-olds had had an alcoholic drink (more than few sips), 1.2% had felt drunk, and .6% had five or more drinks at a time. Odds of ever drinking were higher among boys (1.47, 95% confidence interval, 1.29-1.68) and lower among early adolescents who were Asian British (vs. white; .09, .05-.17) or Black British (.42, .29-.62). Beyond sociodemographic differences, more positive attitudes about alcohol were associated with greater odds of drinking (1.70, 1.51-1.91), feeling drunk (2.96, 2.07-4.24), and having five or more drinks (4.20, 2.66-6.61).

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol use in the last year of primary school was identified but not common. Its use varied by sociodemographic groups; early adolescents with more positive alcohol attitudes had especially high risks of early alcohol initiation. Results support calls for increased surveillance and screening for very early drinking.

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