Women who drink light-to-moderately during pregnancy have been observed to have lower risk of unfavourable pregnancy outcomes than abstainers. This has been suggested to be a result of bias. In a pooled sample, including 193 747 live-born singletons from nine European cohorts, we examined the associations between light-to-moderate drinking and preterm birth, birth weight, and small-for-gestational age in term born children (term SGA). To address potential sources of bias, we compared the associations from the total sample with a sub-sample restricted to first-time pregnant women who conceived within six months of trying, and examined whether the associations varied across calendar time. In the total sample, drinking up to around six drinks per week as compared to abstaining was associated with lower risk of preterm birth, whereas no significant associations were found for birth weight or term SGA. Drinking six or more drinks per week was associated with lower birth weight and higher risk of term SGA, but no increased risk of preterm birth. The analyses restricted to women without reproductive experience revealed similar results. Before 2000 approximately half of pregnant women drank alcohol. This decreased to 39% in 2000-2004, and 14% in 2005-2011. Before 2000, every additional drink was associated with reduced mean birth weight, whereas in 2005-2011, the mean birth weight increased with increasing intake. The period-specific associations between low-to-moderate drinking and birth weight, which also were observed for term SGA, are indicative of bias. It is impossible to distinguish if the bias is attributable to unmeasured confounding, which change over time or cohort heterogeneity.

Published in Pregnant Women

BACKGROUND: Hazardous and harmful alcohol use and high blood pressure are central risk factors related to premature non-communicable disease (NCD) mortality worldwide. A reduction in the prevalence of both risk factors has been suggested as a route to reach the global NCD targets. This study aims to highlight that screening and interventions for hypertension and hazardous and harmful alcohol use in primary healthcare can contribute substantially to achieving the NCD targets.

METHODS: A consensus conference based on systematic reviews, meta-analyses, clinical guidelines, experimental studies, and statistical modelling which had been presented and discussed in five preparatory meetings, was undertaken. Specifically, we modelled changes in blood pressure distributions and potential lives saved for the five largest European countries if screening and appropriate intervention rates in primary healthcare settings were increased. Recommendations to handle alcohol-induced hypertension in primary healthcare settings were derived at the conference, and their degree of evidence was graded.

RESULTS: Screening and appropriate interventions for hazardous alcohol use and use disorders could lower blood pressure levels, but there is a lack in implementing these measures in European primary healthcare. Recommendations included (1) an increase in screening for hypertension (evidence grade: high), (2) an increase in screening and brief advice on hazardous and harmful drinking for people with newly detected hypertension by physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals (evidence grade: high), (3) the conduct of clinical management of less severe alcohol use disorders for incident people with hypertension in primary healthcare (evidence grade: moderate), and (4) screening for alcohol use in hypertension that is not well controlled (evidence grade: moderate). The first three measures were estimated to result in a decreased hypertension prevalence and hundreds of saved lives annually in the examined countries.

CONCLUSIONS: The implementation of the outlined recommendations could contribute to reducing the burden associated with hypertension and hazardous and harmful alcohol use and thus to achievement of the NCD targets. Implementation should be conducted in controlled settings with evaluation, including, but not limited to, economic evaluation.

Published in General Health
AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Alcohol consumption is inversely associated with diabetes, but little is known about the role of drinking patterns. We examined the association between alcohol drinking patterns and diabetes risk in men and women from the general Danish population. METHODS: This cohort study was based on data from the Danish Health Examination Survey 2007-2008. Of the 76,484 survey participants, 28,704 men and 41,847 women were eligible for this study. Participants were followed for a median of 4.9 years. Self-reported questionnaires were used to obtain information on alcohol drinking patterns, i.e. frequency of alcohol drinking, frequency of binge drinking, and consumption of wine, beer and spirits, from which we calculated beverage-specific and overall average weekly alcohol intake. Information on incident cases of diabetes was obtained from the Danish National Diabetes Register. Cox proportional hazards model was applied to estimate HRs and 95% CIs. RESULTS: During follow-up, 859 men and 887 women developed diabetes. The lowest risk of diabetes was observed at 14 drinks/week in men (HR 0.57 [95% CI 0.47, 0.70]) and at 9 drinks/week in women (HR 0.42 [95% CI 0.35, 0.51]), relative to no alcohol intake. Compared with current alcohol consumers consuming <1 day/week, consumption of alcohol on 3-4 days weekly was associated with significantly lower risk for diabetes in men (HR 0.73 [95% CI 0.59, 0.94]) and women (HR 0.68 [95% CI 0.53, 0.88]) after adjusting for confounders and average weekly alcohol amount. CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: Our findings suggest that alcohol drinking frequency is associated with risk of diabetes and that consumption of alcohol over 3-4 days per week is associated with the lowest risk of diabetes, even after taking average weekly alcohol consumption into account
Published in Diabetes

INTRODUCTION AND AIM: This study, which builds on previous research demonstrating that drinking motives are associated with adverse consequences, investigates the associations between drinking motives and non-alcohol-attributed adverse consequences and disentangles alcohol-related and direct effects.

DESIGN AND METHOD: On the basis of a sample of 22 841 alcohol-using 13- to 16-year-olds (50.6% female) from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Wales, structural equation models were used to estimate direct and indirect effects. Additionally, differences across countries were tested in a multigroup analysis.

RESULTS: The indirect effect (via alcohol use) was greater for injuries and academic problems than for more general outcomes such as life dissatisfaction and negative body image. For social, enhancement and coping motives, we found positive indirect effects (via alcohol use) on injuries and academic problems; the association was negative for conformity motives. The direct effect, that is, the effect above and beyond alcohol use, indicated more negative consequences among those who tended to drink more frequently for coping motives. More negative consequences, such as injuries and negative body image, were also found among those who drink for conformity motives. The pattern of association was largely comparable across countries.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: While the actual mean level of drinking motives, alcohol use and adverse consequence varied across countries, the consistency of association patterns implies that drinking motive-inspired health promotion efforts are likely to be beneficial across Europe. This is particularly important for coping drinkers because they are especially prone to adverse consequences over and above their alcohol use.

[Wicki M, Kuntsche E, Eichenberger Y, Aasvee K, Bendtsen P, Dankulincova Veselska Z, Demetrovics Z, Dzielska A, Farkas J, de Matos MG, Roberts C, Tynjala J, Valimaa R, Vieno A. Different drinking motives, different adverse consequences? Evidence among adolescents from 10 European countries. Drug Alcohol Rev 2017;00:000-000]

Published in Drinking Patterns
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