06 May 2014 In Pregnant Women

BACKGROUND: Excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy has adverse effects on fetal growth and development. Less consistent associations have been shown for the associations of light-to-moderate maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy with health outcomes in the offspring. Therefore, we examined the associations of light-to-moderate maternal alcohol consumption with various fetal growth characteristics measured in different periods of pregnancy.

METHODS: This study was based on 7333 pregnant women participating in a population-based cohort study. Alcohol consumption habits and fetal growth were assessed in early (gestational age <17.9 weeks), mid- (gestational age 18-24.9 weeks) and late pregnancy (gestational age > or =25 weeks). We assessed the effects of different categories of alcohol consumption (no; less than one drink per week; one to three drinks per week; four to six drinks per week; one drink per day and two to three drinks per day) on repeatedly measured fetal head circumference, abdominal circumference and femur length.

RESULTS: In total, 37% of all mothers continued alcohol consumption during pregnancy, of whom the majority used less than three drinks per week. We observed no differences in growth rates of fetal head circumference, abdominal circumference or femur length between mothers with and without continued alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Compared with mothers without alcohol consumption, mothers with continued alcohol consumption during pregnancy had an increased fetal weight gain [difference 0.61 g (95% confidence interval: 0.18, 1.04) per week]. Cross-sectional analyses in mid- and late pregnancy showed no consistent associations between the number of alcoholic consumptions and fetal growth characteristics. All analyses were adjusted for potential confounders.

CONCLUSIONS: Light-to-moderate maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy does not adversely affect fetal growth characteristics. Further studies are needed to assess whether moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy influences organ growth and function in postnatal life.

Objective: This study examines whether a mother's style of parenting at child age 5 years predicts problematic patterns of drinking in adolescence, after controlling for relevant individual, maternal and social risk factors.

Methods: Data were used from the Mater-University Study of Pregnancy, an Australian longitudinal study of mothers and their children from pregnancy to when the children were 14 years of age. Logistic regression analyses examined whether maternal parenting practices at child age 5 predicted problematic drinking patterns in adolescence, after controlling for a range of confounding covariates.

Results: Physical punishment at child age 5 did not predict adolescent alcohol problems at follow-up. Results indicated that low maternal control at child age 5 predicted adolescent occasional drinking patterns at age 14. More frequent maternal partner change coupled with lower levels of control was the strongest predictor of more problematic patterns of drinking by adolescents.

Conclusions: These findings highlight the importance of family structure and level of parental control in the development of problematic patterns of drinking in adolescence.

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