OBJECTIVES: To determine the effects of low-to-moderate levels of maternal alcohol consumption in pregnancy on pregnancy and longer-term offspring outcomes.

SEARCH STRATEGY: Medline, Embase, Web of Science and Psych info from inception to 11 July 2016.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Prospective observational studies, negative control and quasi experimental studies of pregnant women estimating effects of light drinking in pregnancy (</=32 g/week) versus abstaining. Pregnancy outcomes such as birth weight and features of fetal alcohol syndrome were examined.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: One reviewer extracted data and another checked extracted data. Random effects meta-analyses were performed where applicable, and a narrative summary of findings was carried out otherwise.

MAIN RESULTS: 24 cohort and two quasi experimental studies were included. With the exception of birth size and gestational age, there was insufficient data to meta-analyse or make robust conclusions. Odds of small for gestational age (SGA) and preterm birth were higher for babies whose mothers consumed up to 32 g/week versus none, but estimates for preterm birth were also compatible with no association: summary OR 1.08, 95% CI (1.02 to 1.14), I2 0%, (seven studies, all estimates were adjusted) OR 1.10, 95% CI (0.95 to 1.28), I2 60%, (nine studies, includes one unadjusted estimates), respectively. The earliest time points of exposure were used in the analysis.

CONCLUSION: Evidence of the effects of drinking </=32 g/week in pregnancy is sparse. As there was some evidence that even light prenatal alcohol consumption is associated with being SGA and preterm delivery, guidance could advise abstention as a precautionary principle but should explain the paucity of evidence.

Published in Pregnant Women

Aims: To review the effectiveness of responsible drinking messages (RDMs). Methods: We searched PsycINFO, MEDLINE and Google Scholar to June 2016 for studies evaluating the effectiveness of RDMs. Only eight studies met the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Due to a small number of search results and broad inconsistency in methods and outcome measures, quantitative synthesis was not possible so a narrative summary of findings was conducted.

Results: A review of findings from these articles suggested a disjointed approach in terms of the format and content of RDMs evaluated, as well as the dependent variables used to judge their effectiveness. An overall pattern emerged suggesting that RDMs may have beneficial effects across various outcome measures, including reducing prospective alcohol use. However, due to the inconsistent approach to both the development and evaluation of RDMs, it was not possible to draw any clear conclusions in terms of effectiveness, or indeed the potential size of any effects.

Conclusions: A systematic approach to the development and evaluation of RDMs is recommended to ensure that a clearer evidence base is established in this area, particularly in light of the substantial public funds which are often spent on RDM campaigns.

Short summary: A systematic review of studies evaluating the effectiveness of responsible drinking message campaigns reveals an inconsistent approach to message design and evaluation. Findings of the review suggest the need for a more consistent approach to aid in the development of a clearer evidence base in this area.

Published in General Health

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Only a few population-based prospective studies have examined the association between alcohol consumption and abdominal aortic aneurysm, and the results are inconsistent. Moreover, no evidence exists for aortic dissection. We examined the effect of alcohol consumption on risk of mortality from aortic diseases.

METHODS: A total of 34,720 men from the Japan Collaborative Cohort study, aged 40-79 years, without history of cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline 1988 and 1990 were followed up until the end of 2009 for their mortality and its underlying cause. Hazard ratios of mortality from aortic diseases were estimated according to alcohol consumption categories of never-drinkers, ex-drinkers, regular drinkers of 30 g ethanol per day.

RESULTS: During the median 17.9-year follow-up period, 45 men died of aortic dissection and 41 men died of abdominal aortic aneurysm. Light to moderate drinkers of 30 g ethanol per day did not have reduced risk of mortality from total aortic disease, albeit had risk variation between aortic dissection and abdominal aortic aneurysm.

CONCLUSIONS: Light to moderate alcohol consumption was associated with reduced mortality from aortic disease among Japanese men.

Published in General Health

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to prospectively investigate the potential effects of alcohol by subtype on reported long-term weight change.

METHODS: This study examined changes in alcohol intake (total, wine, light beer, regular beer, and liquor) and simultaneous changes in reported body weight within 4-year periods from 1986 to 2010 from US men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The study adjusted for age, changes in lifestyle and dietary covariates, and cardiovascular risk factors.

RESULTS: The study included observations of 44,603 four-year periods from 14,971 men. Total alcohol, total beer, regular beer, and liquor intakes, modeled as the increase in weight per increase in drinks per day, were each directly associated with moderate weight gain over the 4-year periods, in pounds: total alcohol: 0.23 (0.10 to 0.35); total beer: 0.29 (0.08 to 0.51); regular beer: 0.61 (0.22 to 1.00); and liquor: 0.28 (0.09 to 0.48). Results for wine and light beer were as follows: wine: 0.16 (-0.04 to 0.36) and light beer: -0.38 (-1.07 to 0.08). Results were strongest for men < 55 years old.

CONCLUSIONS: Increased alcohol consumption was associated with minor reported weight gain at levels unlikely to be clinically meaningful. Beverage-specific differences were not substantial enough to make dietary recommendations for weight loss or maintenance by beverage type. The greatest risk of weight gain was among men who increased consumption to levels well above moderation.

Published in General Health
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