More than 50% of Dutch 12-year olds already started drinking. Since it is known that delaying the onset of alcohol use results in a lower risk of alcohol-related problems, the recently developed 'In control: No alcohol!' prevention program is targeted at elementary school children and their mothers. In this pilot study, the success of program implementation and impact of the program on quality of alcohol-specific communication, rules and monitoring were evaluated, using a randomized controlled design. A total of 108 children (11-12 years) and their mothers participated in the prevention program, while the control group consisted of 105 dyads. Families participating in the experimental condition showed an increase in frequency of alcohol-specific communication and 75% of the dyads reported that they took part in at least 3 of 5 magazines, suggesting implementation was successful. The program led to an increase in quality of communication but only for those dyads in which mothers' alcohol use was above average. The program led parents to set up a non-drinking contract with their children and to monitor their children more closely. Results are promising but need to be replicated in a larger longitudinal study.

06 May 2014 In Pregnant Women

BACKGROUND: There is substantial debate as to whether moderate alcohol use during pregnancy could have subtle but important effects on offspring, by impairing later cognitive function and thus school performance. The authors aimed to investigate the unconfounded effect of moderately increased prenatal alcohol exposure on cognitive/educational performance.

METHODS: We used mother-offspring pairs participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and performed both conventional observational analyses and Mendelian randomization using an ADH1B variant (rs1229984) associated with reduced alcohol consumption. Women of White European origin with genotype and self-reported prenatal alcohol consumption, whose offspring's IQ score had been assessed in clinic (N = 4061 pairs) or Key Stage 2 (KS2) academic achievement score was available through linkage to the National Pupil Database (N = 6268), contributed to the analyses.

RESULTS: Women reporting moderate drinking before and during early pregnancy were relatively affluent compared with women reporting lighter drinking, and their children had higher KS2 and IQ scores. In contrast, children whose mothers' genotype predisposes to lower consumption or abstinence during early pregnancy had higher KS2 scores (mean difference +1.7, 95% confidence interval +0.4, +3.0) than children of mothers whose genotype predisposed to heavier drinking, after adjustment for population stratification.

CONCLUSIONS: Better offspring cognitive/educational outcomes observed in association with prenatal alcohol exposure presumably reflected residual confounding by factors associated with social position and maternal education. The unconfounded Mendelian randomization estimates suggest a small but potentially important detrimental effect of small increases in prenatal alcohol exposure, at least on educational outcomes.

06 May 2014 In Pregnant Women

BACKGROUND: The safety of small amounts of alcohol drinking and occasional binge-level drinking during pregnancy remains unsettled. We examined the association of maternal average alcohol intake and binge drinking (>or=5 drinks per sitting) with infant mortality, both in the neonatal and postneonatal period.

METHODS: Participants were 79,216 mothers who were enrolled in the Danish National Birth Cohort in 1996-2002, gave birth to a live-born singleton, and provided information while they were pregnant on alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Information on infant mortality and causes of death was obtained from national registries and medical records.

RESULTS: During the first year of life, 279 children (0.35%) died, 204 during the neonatal period. Infant mortality was not associated with alcohol drinking, even at a consumption level of either 4+ drinks per week or 3+ occasions of binge drinking. Postneonatal mortality was associated with an intake of 4+ drinks per week (hazard ratio = 3.56 [95% confidence interval = 1.15-8.43]) and with 3+ binge episodes (2.69 [1.27-5.69]). When restricting analyses to term births, both infant mortality and postneonatal mortality were associated with a weekly average intake of 4+ drinks or 3+ binge episodes.

CONCLUSIONS: Among term infants, intake of at least 4 drinks of alcohol per week or binging on 3 or more occasions during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of infant mortality, especially during the postneonatal period.

06 May 2014 In Pregnant Women

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of low to moderate maternal alcohol consumption and binge drinking in early pregnancy on behaviour in children at the age of 5 years.

DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.

SETTING: Neuropsychological testing in four Danish cities, 2003-2008.

POPULATION: A total of 1628 women and their children sampled from the Danish National Birth Cohort.

METHODS: Participants were sampled based on maternal alcohol drinking patterns during early pregnancy. When the children were 5 years of age the parent and teacher versions of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) were completed by the mothers and a preschool teacher, respectively. The full statistical model included the following potential confounding factors: maternal binge drinking or low to moderate alcohol consumption, respectively; parental education; maternal IQ; prenatal maternal smoking; the child's age at testing; the child's gender; maternal age; parity; maternal marital status; family home environment; postnatal parental smoking; prepregnancy maternal body mass index (BMI); and the child's health status.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Behaviour among children assessed by the SDQ parent and teacher forms.

RESULTS: Adjusted for all potential confounding factors, no statistically significant associations were observed between maternal low to moderate average weekly alcohol consumption and SDQ behavioural scores (OR 1.1, 95% CI 0.5-2.3; OR 1.1, 95% CI 0.6-2.1 for the total difficulties scores) or between binge drinking and SDQ behavioural scores (OR 1.2, 95% CI 0.8-1.7; OR 0.8, 95% CI 0.6-1.2).

CONCLUSION: This study observed no consistent effects of low to moderate alcohol consumption or binge drinking in early pregnancy on offspring behaviour at the age of 5 years.

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