Heavy maternal alcohol consumption during early pregnancy increases the risk of oral clefts, but little is known about how genetic variation in alcohol metabolism affects this association. Variants in the alcohol dehydrogenase 1C (ADH1C) gene may modify the association between alcohol and clefts. In a population-based case-control study carried out in Norway (1996-2001), the authors examined the association between maternal alcohol consumption and risk of oral clefts according to mother and infant ADH1C haplotypes encoding fast or slow alcohol-metabolizing phenotypes. Subjects were 483 infants with oral cleft malformations and 503 control infants and their mothers, randomly selected from all other livebirths taking place during the same period. Mothers who consumed 5 or more alcoholic drinks per sitting during the first trimester of pregnancy had an elevated risk of oral cleft in their offspring (odds ratio (OR) = 2.6, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.4, 4.7). This increased risk was evident only in mothers or children who carried the ADH1C haplotype associated with reduced alcohol metabolism (OR= 3.0, 95% CI: 1.4, 6.8). There was no evidence of alcohol-related risk when both mother and infant carried only the rapid-metabolism ADH1C variant (OR = 0.9, 95% CI: 0.2, 4.1). The teratogenic effect of alcohol may depend on the genetic capacity of the mother and fetus to metabolize alcohol.

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.

06 May 2014 In Pregnant Women

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether light drinking in pregnancy is associated with adverse child mental health and academic outcomes.

DESIGN: Using data from the prospective, population-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), we investigated the associations between light drinking in pregnancy (/=1 glass per week of alcohol during the first trimester (45% abstaining). After adjustment, relative to abstainers, there was no effect of light drinking on teacher-rated SDQ scores or examination results. In girls, although there was a suggestion of worse outcomes (adjusted regression coefficient=0.38; 95% CI 0.01 to 0.74) on the parent-rated total SDQ score in those exposed to light drinking compared to abstainers, no dose-response relationship was evident.

CONCLUSIONS: Although the pattern of findings involving parent ratings for girls exposed to light drinking is consistent with earlier findings from this cohort, the overall lack of any adverse effects of light drinking is similar to findings from other recent cohort studies. Light drinking in pregnancy does not appear to be associated with clinically important adverse effects for mental health and academic outcomes at the age of 11 years.

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