An analysis of the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on growth: A teratologic model

Authors

  • Nancy L. Day,

    Corresponding author
    • Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Maternal Health Practices and Child Development Project, 3811 O'Hara St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213-2593.
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    • Nancy L. Day is Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Maternal Health Practices and Child Development Project, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  • Gale A. Richardson

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    • Gale A. Richardson is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Maternal Health Practices and Child Development Project, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Abstract

The association between prenatal exposure to alcohol and growth is linear, and effects have been measured at levels of exposure that are considerably below one drink per day. Thus, with respect to growth deficits, there is no safe level of drinking during pregnancy. Alcohol exposure during gestation causes growth deficits among the offspring at birth and during infancy. At older ages, however, growth deficits are reported in some, though not all, studies. Exposed offspring who grow up in more privileged environments are apparently able to make up their growth deficits, while those raised in less optimal circumstances do not. This means that there is an interaction between the environment in which a child is raised and the expression of the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure. The long-term implications of growth deficits are not yet well understood. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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