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

BACKGROUND: Drinking in youth is linked to other risky behaviours, educational failure and premature death. Prior research has examined drinking in mid and late teenagers, but little is known about the factors that influence drinking at the beginning of adolescence. Objectives were: 1. to assess associations of parental and friends' drinking with reported drinking among 11 year olds; 2. to investigate the roles of perceptions of harm, expectancies towards alcohol, parental supervision and family relationships on reported drinking among 11 year olds.

METHODS: Analysis of data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study on 10498 11-year-olds. The outcome measure was having drank an alcoholic drink, self-reported by cohort members.

RESULTS: 13.6 % of 11 year olds reported having drank. Estimates reported are odds ratios and 95 % confidence intervals. Cohort members whose mothers drank were more likely to drink (light/moderate = 1.6, 1.3 to 2.0, heavy/binge = 1.8, 1.4 to 2.3). Cohort members whose fathers drank were also more likely to drink but these estimates lost statistical significance when covariates were adjusted for (light/moderate = 1.3, 0.9 to 1.9, heavy/binge = 1.3, 0.9 to 1.9). Having friends who drank was strongly associated with cohort member drinking (4.8, 3.9 to 5.9). Associated with reduced odds of cohort member drinking were: heightened perception of harm from 1-2 drinks daily (some = 0.9, 0.7 to 1.1, great = 0.6, 0.5 to 0.7); and negative expectancies towards alcohol (0.5, 0.4 to 0.7). Associated with increased odds of cohort member drinking were: positive expectancies towards alcohol (1.9, 1.4 to 2.5); not being supervised on weekends and weekdays (often = 1.2, 1.0 to 1.4); frequent battles of will (1.3, 1.1 to 1.5); and not being happy with family (1.2, 1.0 to 1.5).

CONCLUSIONS: Examining drinking at this point in the lifecourse has potentially important public health implications as around one in seven 11 year olds have drank, although the vast majority are yet to explore alcohol. Findings support interventions working at multiple levels that incorporate family and peer factors to help shape choices around risky behaviours including drinking.

Published in Drinking Patterns

BACKGROUND: Heavy alcohol use during pregnancy can cause considerable developmental problems for children, but effects of light-moderate drinking are uncertain. This study examined possible effects of moderate drinking in pregnancy on children's conduct problems using a Mendelian randomisation design to improve causal inference.

METHODS: A prospective cohort study (ALSPAC) followed children from their mother's pregnancy to age 13 years. Analyses were based on 3,544 children whose mothers self-reported either not drinking alcohol during pregnancy or drinking up to six units per week without binge drinking. Children's conduct problem trajectories were classified as low risk, childhood-limited, adolescence-onset or early-onset-persistent, using six repeated measures of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire between ages 4-13 years. Variants of alcohol-metabolising genes in children were used to create an instrumental variable for Mendelian randomisation analysis.

RESULTS: Children's genotype scores were associated with early-onset-persistent conduct problems (OR = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.04-1.60, p = .020) if mothers drank moderately in pregnancy, but not if mothers abstained from drinking (OR = 0.94, CI = 0.72-1.25, p = .688). Children's genotype scores did not predict childhood-limited or adolescence-onset conduct problems.

CONCLUSIONS: This quasi-experimental study suggests that moderate alcohol drinking in pregnancy contributes to increased risk for children's early-onset-persistent conduct problems, but not childhood-limited or adolescence-onset conduct problems.

Published in Pregnant Women
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