OBJECTIVE: To examine outcomes among boys and girls that are associated with prenatal alcohol exposure.

METHODS: Boys and girls with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and randomly-selected controls were compared on a variety of physical and neurobehavioral traits.

RESULTS: Sex ratios indicated that heavy maternal binge drinking may have significantly diminished viability to birth and survival of boys postpartum more than girls by age seven. Case control comparisons of a variety of physical and neurobehavioral traits at age seven indicate that both sexes were affected similarly for a majority of variables. However, alcohol-exposed girls had significantly more dysmorphology overall than boys and performed significantly worse on non-verbal IQ tests than males. A three-step sequential regression analysis, controlling for multiple covariates, further indicated that dysmorphology among girls was significantly more associated with five maternal drinking variables and three distal maternal risk factors. However, the overall model, which included five associated neurobehavioral measures at step three, was not significant (p=0.09, two-tailed test). A separate sequential logistic regression analysis of predictors of a FASD diagnosis, however, indicated significantly more negative outcomes overall for girls than boys (Nagelkerke R2=0.42 for boys and 0.54 for girls, z=-2.9, p=0.004).

CONCLUSION: Boys and girls had mostly similar outcomes when prenatal alcohol exposure was linked to poor physical and neurocognitive development. Nevertheless, sex ratios implicate lower viability and survival of males by first grade, and girls have more dysmorphology and neurocognitive impairment than boys resulting in a higher probability of a FASD diagnosis.

Published in Pregnant Women

Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy are among the strongest and most preventable risk factors for adverse neonatal health outcomes, but few developmentally sensitive, population-based studies of this phenomenon have been conducted. To address this gap, the present study examined the prevalence and correlates of alcohol and tobacco use among pregnant adolescents (aged 12-17) and adults (aged 18-44) in the United States. Data were derived from the population-based National Survey of Drug Use and Health (80,498 adolescent and 152,043 adult women) between 2005 and 2014. Findings show disconcerting levels of past-month use among pregnant women with 11.5% of adolescent and 8.7% of adult women using alcohol, and 23.0% of adolescent and 14.9% of adult women using tobacco. Compared to their non-pregnant counterparts, pregnant adolescents were less likely to report past 30-day alcohol use (AOR=0.52, 95% CI=0.36-0.76), but more likely to report past 30-day tobacco use (AOR=2.20, 95% CI=1.53-3.18). Compared to their non-pregnant adult counterparts, pregnant adults were less likely to report using alcohol (AOR=0.06, 95% CI=0.05-0.07) and tobacco (AOR=0.47, 95% CI=0.43-0.52). Compared to pregnant abstainers, pregnant women reporting alcohol/tobacco use were more likely to have had a major depressive episode in the past 12 months, report criminal justice system involvement, and endorse comorbid alcohol/tobacco use. Given alcohol and tobacco's deleterious consequences during pregnancy, increased attention to reducing use is critical. Findings suggest that tobacco use is especially problematic for both adolescents and adults and is strongly linked with depression and criminal justice involvement, especially among adults.

Published in Pregnant Women

OBJECTIVE: Evidence on the impact of legislative changes on individual alcohol consumption is limited. Using an observational study design, we assessed trends in individual alcohol consumption of a Swiss adult population following the public policy changes that took place between 1993 and 2014, while considering individual characteristics and secular trends.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SETTING: Swiss general adult population.

PARTICIPANTS: Data from 18 963 participants were collected between 1993 and 2014 (aged 18-75 years).

OUTCOME MEASURES: We used data from the 'Bus Sante' study, an annual health survey conducted in random samples of the adult population in the State of Geneva, Switzerland. Individual alcohol intake was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Individual characteristics including education were self-reported. 7 policy changes (6 about alcohol and 1 about tobacco) that occurred between 1993 and 2014 defined 6 different periods. We predicted alcohol intake using quantile regression with multivariate analysis for each period adjusting for participants' characteristics and tested significance periods. Sensitivity analysis was performed including drinkers only, the 10th centile of highest drinkers and smoker's status.

RESULTS: Between 1993 and 2014, participants' individual alcohol intake decreased from 7.1 to 5.4 g/day (24% reduction, p<0.001). Men decreased their alcohol intake by 34% compared with 22% for women (p<0.001). The decrease in alcohol intake remained significant when considering drinkers only (28% decrease, p<0.001) and the 10th centile highest drinkers (24% decrease, p<0.001). Consumption of all alcoholic beverages decreased between 1993 and 2014 except for the moderate consumption of beer, which increased. After adjustment for participants' characteristics and secular trends, no independent association between alcohol legislative changes and individual alcohol intake was found.

CONCLUSIONS: Between 1993 and 2014, alcohol consumption decreased in the Swiss adult population independently of policy changes.

Published in Drinking Patterns

Humans are cumulatively exposed to acetaldehyde from various sources including alcoholic beverages, tobacco smoke, foods and beverages. The genetic-epidemiologic and biochemical evidence in ALDH2-deficient humans provides strong evidence for the causal relationship between acetaldehyde-exposure due to alcohol consumption and cancer of the upper digestive tract. The risk assessment has so far relied on thresholds based on animal toxicology with lower one-sided confidence limit of the benchmark dose values (BMDL) typically ranging between 11 and 63 mg/kg bodyweight (bw)/day dependent on species and endpoint. The animal data is problematic for regulatory toxicology for various reasons (lack in study quality, problems in animal models and appropriateness of endpoints - especially cancer - for transfer to humans). In this study, data from genetic epidemiologic and biochemical studies are reviewed. The increase in the daily exposure dose to acetaldehyde in alcohol-consuming ALDH2-deficients vs. ALDH2-actives was about twofold. The acetaldehyde increase due to ALDH2 inactivity was calculated to be 6.7 mug/kg bw/day for heavy drinkers, which is associated with odds ratios of up to 7 for head and neck as well as oesophageal cancer. Previous animal toxicology based risk assessments may have underestimated the risk of acetaldehyde. Risk assessments of acetaldehyde need to be revised using this updated evidence.

Published in Cancer
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