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

The pattern of alcohol consumption in the form of binge drinking (BD) or heavy episodic drinking has increased notably worldwide in recent years, especially among adolescent and young people, being currently recognized as a global health problem. Although only a minority of binge drinkers will develop a substance use disorder, BD may have negative personal and social consequences in the short and medium term. The objective of this article is to review the findings on personality traits related to binge drinkers and to emphasize the aspects that should be examined in order to make progress in this area. The main characteristics of personality related to the practice of BD, regardless of the theoretical model used, are high Impulsivity and high Sensation seeking, as well as Anxiety sensitivity, Neuroticism (Hopelessness), Extraversion and low Conscientiousness. The data obtained may have theoretical implications to elucidate the endophenotype of BD, but they are especially useful for their preventive applications. Integration into prevention programs of emotional self-control skills, decision-making, social skills, and strategies to manage negative emotions will minimize the risk factors or consequences of BD associated with personality and will improve their effectiveness. In the future, it is necessary to harmonize a common measurement instrument for the assessment of personality, develop longitudinal studies with large samples that also integrate biological and neurocognitive measurements, and determine the reciprocal relationship between personality and BD together with its modulating variables, as well as the possible cultural differences.

Published in Drinking Patterns

AIM: The objective of this study is to assess the effects of Heavy Episodic Drinking (HED) on the incidence of alcohol-related injuries among university students in Spain, taking sex into consideration.

METHODS: We carried out an open cohort study among college students in Spain (992 women and 371 men). HED and alcohol-related injuries were measured by question 3rd and 9th of Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test to every participant at the ages of 18, 20, 22, 24 and 27. For data analysis we used a Multilevel Logistic Regression for repeated measures adjusting for alcohol and cannabis use.

RESULTS: The incidence rate of alcohol-related injuries was 0.028year-1 for females and 0.036year-1 for males. The multivariate analysis showed that among females a high frequency of HED and use of cannabis are risk factors for alcohol-related injuries (Odds Ratio [OR]=2.64 and OR=3.68), while being more than 23 is a protective factor (OR=0.34). For males, bivariate analysis also showed HED like risk factor (OR=4.69 and OR=2.51). Finally, the population attributable fraction for HED among females was 37.12%.

CONCLUSIONS: HED leads to an increase of alcohol-related injuries in both sexes and being over 23 years old acts as a protective factor among women. Our results suggest that about one third of alcohol-related injuries among women could be avoided by removing HED.

Published in Drinking Patterns
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