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

AIM: To examine whether exposure to increased alcohol availability in utero is associated with later alcohol-related health problems.

METHOD: Register-linked population-based longitudinal study using data from a natural experiment setting, including 363 286 children born 1965-71. An experimental alcohol policy change was piloted in two regions of Sweden in 1967-68, where access to strong beer increased for 16-20 year old. Children exposed in utero to the policy change were compared to children born elsewhere in Sweden (excluding a border area), and to children born before and after the policy change. The outcome was obtained from the National Hospital Discharge Register using the Swedish index of alcohol-related inpatient care. Hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by Cox regression analysis.

RESULTS: The results suggest that children conceived by young mothers prior to the policy change but exposed to it in utero had a slightly increased risk of alcohol-related health problems later in life (HR 1.26, 95% CI 0.94-1.68). A tendency towards an inverse association was found among children conceived by older mothers (HR 0.88, 95% CI 0.74-1.06).

CONCLUSION: Results obtained from a natural experiment setting found no consistent evidence of long-term health consequences among children exposed in utero to an alcohol policy change. Some evidence however suggested an increased risk of alcohol-related health problems among the exposed children of young mothers.

Published in General Health
INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: There is limited research regarding the effects of alcohol consumption by breastfeeding mothers on infant development. This study examined the frequency, correlates and outcomes of alcohol use during lactation. DESIGN AND METHODS: Data were from an Australian cohort study. Maternal demographics and substance use were assessed during pregnancy and at 8 weeks and 12 months postpartum. Breastfeeding duration, infant feeding, sleeping and development (Ages and Stages Questionnaire) were also assessed postpartum. Logistic regression and general linear model analyses examined characteristics of women who drank during breastfeeding, and the association between alcohol use during breastfeeding and infant outcomes. RESULTS: Alcohol use was reported by 60.7% and 69.6% of breastfeeding women at 8 weeks and 12 months postpartum, respectively. Breastfeeding women who consumed alcohol were more likely to be born in Australia or another English-speaking country, be tertiary educated and have higher household incomes. Most drank at low levels (
Published in Pregnant Women

BACKGROUND: Although single-country studies indicate alcohol consumption among some pregnant European women, it is difficult to interpret European differences. Few multinational studies exist using the same methodology.

AIM: To estimate the proportion of women consuming alcohol during pregnancy in Europe, and to analyze whether between country variations could be explained by sociodemography and smoking.

METHODS: An anonymous online questionnaire was accessible for pregnant women and new mothers in 11 European countries during two months between October 2011 and February 2012 in each country. The questionnaire covered alcohol consumption, sociodemographic factors, and smoking habits during pregnancy. Descriptive analyses and logistic regression models were conducted.

FINDINGS: The study population consisted of 7905 women, 53.1% pregnant and 46.9% new mothers. On average, 15.8% reported alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The highest proportion of alcohol consumption during pregnancy was found in the UK (28.5%), Russia (26.5%), and Switzerland (20.9%) and the lowest in Norway (4.1%), Sweden (7.2%), and Poland (9.7%). When reporting alcohol consumption during pregnancy, 39% consumed at least one unit per month. In Italy, Switzerland, and the UK, over half consumed at least one alcohol unit per month. Higher education and smoking before pregnancy were predictors of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

CONCLUSIONS: Almost 16% of women resident in Europe consumed alcohol during pregnancy with large cross-country variations. Education and smoking prior to pregnancy could not fully explain the differences between the European countries. A united European strategy to prevent alcohol consumption during pregnancy is needed with focus on countries with the highest consumption.

Published in Pregnant Women
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