The social norms marketing approach is one method used to reduce extreme alcohol consumption. The current study implemented a web-based survey (N = 891) to assess whether sensation-seeking, perceived moderate drinking norms, and social norm message believability impacted alcohol consumption on a college campus. Sensation seeking was not directly related to normative perceptions of others' moderate alcohol consumption. Sensation seeking, perceived norms, and message believability all had direct effects on alcohol consumption, and the interaction of sensation seeking and message believability impacted alcohol consumption, while the interaction of sensation seeking and perceived norms on alcohol consumption was marginally significant. Implications of these findings for the social norms marketing approach are discussed.

Efforts to discourage excessive alcohol use among young people can only be effective if the target audience is exposed to, attends to, and comprehends key messages. The aim of this study was to examine age and sex differences in drinking motives to better inform development of targeted interventions to reduce alcohol-related harm. Thirty individual interviews and 12 group interviews were conducted with English 13-25 year olds. Interviewees gave multiple motivations for drinking - especially those related to image and reputation, and played down the health implications of heavy drinking. Negative aspects of drinking - caring for drunk friends, being cared for when drunk and suffering through hangovers with friends - were considered to offer opportunities for closer interpersonal bonding than other social activities. Respondents distanced themselves from 'problem' drinkers, but disapproved of others' problematic drinking or antisocial behaviour. Narrative messages demonstrating the social consequences of excessive consumption were preferred to single, static messages emphasising risk or harm. Interviewees noted that interventions must use an engaging tone or pitch: they considered many campaigns to be patronising or preaching. A lack of consensus between age and sex groups highlighted a need for multifaceted, multi-modal approaches that utilise mobile technologies and new media.

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.

Published in Pregnant Women
BACKGROUND: Various human and animal studies suggest that peak alcohol exposure during a binge episode, rather than total alcohol exposure, may determine fetal development. Research about the impact of binge drinking on birth outcomes is sparse and inconclusive. Data from the Born in Bradford cohort study were used to explore the impact of binge drinking on birth outcomes. METHODS: Interview-administered questionnaire data about the lifestyle and social characteristics of 10 851 pregnancies were linked to maternity and birth data. The impact of self-reported binge drinking (5 units: 40 g of pure alcohol) on two birth outcomes (small for gestational age (SGA) and preterm birth (<37 weeks)) was assessed using multivariate logistic regression models, while adjusting for confounders. RESULTS: The percentage of women classified as binge drinkers fell from 24.5% before pregnancy to 9% during the first trimester and 3.1% during the second trimester. There was a significant association between SGA birth and binge drinking (all categories combined; OR 1.68, 95% CI 1.15 to 2.47, p=0.01). No association was observed between moderate drinking and either birth outcome, or between binge drinking and preterm birth. CONCLUSIONS: Binge drinking during the second trimester of pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of SGA birth. No association was found between any level of alcohol consumption and premature birth. This work supports previous research showing no association between SGA and low-alcohol exposure but adds to evidence of a dose-response relationship with significant risks observed at binge drinking levels
Published in Pregnant Women

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