26 April 2017 In Pregnant Women
INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: There is limited research regarding the effects of alcohol consumption by breastfeeding mothers on infant development. This study examined the frequency, correlates and outcomes of alcohol use during lactation. DESIGN AND METHODS: Data were from an Australian cohort study. Maternal demographics and substance use were assessed during pregnancy and at 8 weeks and 12 months postpartum. Breastfeeding duration, infant feeding, sleeping and development (Ages and Stages Questionnaire) were also assessed postpartum. Logistic regression and general linear model analyses examined characteristics of women who drank during breastfeeding, and the association between alcohol use during breastfeeding and infant outcomes. RESULTS: Alcohol use was reported by 60.7% and 69.6% of breastfeeding women at 8 weeks and 12 months postpartum, respectively. Breastfeeding women who consumed alcohol were more likely to be born in Australia or another English-speaking country, be tertiary educated and have higher household incomes. Most drank at low levels (=14 standard drinks per week, <3 per occasion) and employed strategies (e.g. timing of alcohol use) to minimise alcohol passed onto infants via breastmilk. Alcohol consumption was unrelated to breastfeeding duration, infant feeding and sleeping behaviour at 8 weeks, and most infant developmental outcomes at 8 weeks or 12 months, after adjusting for confounders. The only significant association showed that infants whose mothers drank at 8 weeks postpartum had more favourable results for personal-social development at 12 months compared with those whose mothers abstained. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Low level drinking during breastfeeding is not linked with shorter breastfeeding duration or adverse outcomes in infants up to 12 months of age. [Wilson J, Tay RY, McCormack C, Allsop S, Najman J, Burns L, Olsson CA, Elliott E, Jacobs S, Mattick RP, Hutchinson D. Alcohol consumption by breastfeeding mothers: Frequency, correlates and infant outcomes. Drug Alcohol Rev 2017;00:000-000]
01 February 2017 In Social and Cultural Aspects

The alcohol industry have attempted to position themselves as collaborators in alcohol policy making as a way of influencing policies away from a focus on the drivers of the harmful use of alcohol (marketing, over availability and affordability). Their framings of alcohol consumption and harms allow them to argue for ineffective measures, largely targeting heavier consumers, and against population wide measures as the latter will affect moderate drinkers. The goal of their public relations organisations is to 'promote responsible drinking'. However, analysis of data collected in the International Alcohol Control study and used to estimate how much heavier drinking occasions contribute to the alcohol market in five different countries shows the alcohol industry's reliance on the harmful use of alcohol. In higher income countries heavier drinking occasions make up approximately 50% of sales and in middle income countries it is closer to two-thirds. It is this reliance on the harmful use of alcohol which underpins the conflicting interests between the transnational alcohol corporations and public health and which militates against their involvement in the alcohol policy arena.

[Caswell S, Callinan S, Chaiyasong S, Cuong PV, Kazantseva E, Bayandorj T, Huckle T, Parker K, Railton R, Wall M. How the alcohol industry relies on harmful use of alcohol and works to protect its profits. Drug Alcohol Rev 2016;35:661-664]

01 February 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: The Alcohol Harm Paradox refers to observations that lower socioeconomic status (SES) groups consume less alcohol but experience more alcohol-related problems. However, SES is a complex concept and its observed relationship to social problems often depends on how it is measured and the demographic groups studied. Thus this study assessed socioeconomic patterning of alcohol consumption and related harm using multiple measures of SES and examined moderation of this patterning by gender and age.

METHOD: Data were used from the Alcohol Toolkit Study between March and September 2015 on 31,878 adults (16+) living in England. Participants completed the AUDIT which includes alcohol consumption, harm and dependence modules. SES was measured via qualifications, employment, home and car ownership, income and social-grade, plus a composite of these measures. The composite score was coded such that higher scores reflected greater social-disadvantage.

RESULTS: We observed the Alcohol Harm Paradox for the composite SES measure, with a linear negative relationship between SES and AUDIT-Consumption scores (beta = -0.036, p<0.001) and a positive relationship between lower SES and AUDIT-Harm (beta = 0.022, p<0.001) and AUDIT-Dependence (beta = 0.024, p<0.001) scores. Individual measures of SES displayed different, and non-linear, relationships with AUDIT modules. For example, social-grade and income had a u-shaped relationship with AUDIT-Consumption scores while education had an inverse u-shaped relationship. Almost all measures displayed an exponential relationship with AUDIT-Dependence and AUDIT-Harm scores. We identified moderating effects from age and gender, with AUDIT-Dependence scores increasing more steeply with lower SES in men and both AUDIT-Harm and AUDIT-Dependence scores increasing more steeply with lower SES in younger age groups.

CONCLUSION: Different SES measures appear to influence whether the Alcohol Harm Paradox is observed as a linear trend across SES groups or a phenomenon associated particularly with the most disadvantaged. The paradox also appears more concentrated in men and younger age groups.

01 February 2017 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: We examined whether alcohol flushing could be used as an instrumental variable (IV) and investigated the effect of alcohol consumption on coronary calcification using alcohol flushing status as an IV.

METHODS: We analysed cross-sectional data from 24 681 Korean adults (20 696 men and 3985 women) who had been administered a questionnaire assessing alcohol consumption and alcohol flushing, as well as a coronary artery calcium (CAC) measurement. The associations of alcohol flushing status with potential confounders and alcohol consumption were examined. We employed two-stage predictor substitution methodology for the IV analysis.

RESULTS: The prevalence of alcohol flushing did not differ depending on gender, education, household income, cigarette smoking or physical activity. Balanced levels of confounders were observed between alcohol flushers and non-flushers. Alcohol flushing was closely related to alcohol consumption and levels of liver enzymes. In men, a doubling in alcohol consumption was associated with increased odds of coronary calcification in both the IV analysis [odds ratio (OR) of CAC scores of 1 or over = 1.11; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.03-1.20) and the multivariable regression analysis (OR = 1.04; 95% CI = 1.01-1.07). For cardiovascular risk factors, the IV analysis showed a positive association between alcohol consumption and blood pressure and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol.

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol flushing can be used as an IV in studies evaluating the health impact of alcohol consumption, especially in East Asian countries. Through such an analysis, we found that increased alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis.

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