Maternal Alcohol Abuse and Neonatal Infection

Authors

  • Theresa W. Gauthier,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Pediatrics(TWG, LASB), Division of Neonatology, Department of Epidemiology(CD-B), Rollins School of Public Health, Department of Psychiatry(AF, CC), Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322
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  • Carolyn Drews-Botsch,

    1. Department of Pediatrics(TWG, LASB), Division of Neonatology, Department of Epidemiology(CD-B), Rollins School of Public Health, Department of Psychiatry(AF, CC), Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322
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  • Arthur Falek,

    1. Department of Pediatrics(TWG, LASB), Division of Neonatology, Department of Epidemiology(CD-B), Rollins School of Public Health, Department of Psychiatry(AF, CC), Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322
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  • Claire Coles,

    1. Department of Pediatrics(TWG, LASB), Division of Neonatology, Department of Epidemiology(CD-B), Rollins School of Public Health, Department of Psychiatry(AF, CC), Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322
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  • Lou Ann S. Brown

    1. Department of Pediatrics(TWG, LASB), Division of Neonatology, Department of Epidemiology(CD-B), Rollins School of Public Health, Department of Psychiatry(AF, CC), Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322
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  • Collection of this data was supported by a CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL/ASPH Cooperative Agreement (CDB). This analysis was funded in part by Grants from the Children's Research Center of Emory University and the Emory Medical Care Foundation Faculty Scholar Program (TWG).

  • Presented in part at the 2001 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, Baltimore, MD.

Reprint requests: Theresa W. Gauthier, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University, 2015 Uppergate Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322; Fax: 404-727-7233; E-mail: tgauthi@emory.edu.

Abstract

Background:

Since chronic alcohol use suppresses the adult immune system, we tested the hypothesis that maternal alcohol ingestion increases the risk of infection in term newborns.

Methods:

Analysis of a large case-control study of birth weight for gestational age was performed focusing on maternal alcohol ingestion and the development of infection in term newborns ≥36 weeks gestation. After delivery, mothers were asked about alcohol and tobacco use in the 3 months prior to conception, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester of pregnancy.

Results:

Eight hundred and seventy-two singleton newborns (872) ≥ 36 weeks gestation were identified for analysis. A total of 51 (5.8%) had newborn infections. Gestational age, sex, and small for gestational age (SGA) were similar in the newborns with and without infection (p= NS). Infants whose mothers reported alcohol use, excessive drinking or smoking in pregnancy were more likely to have a newborn diagnosed with an infection than were mothers who reported abstaining from alcohol or cigarettes (p < 0.05). When controlling for race and smoking, SGA infants whose mothers used any alcohol had a 2.5-fold increase risk of infection, while excessive alcohol use increased the risk 3–4-fold. In a multivariable logistic regression analysis controlling for low maternal income, smoking, and SGA, excessive alcohol use during the 2nd trimester increased the risk of newborn infection (OR 3.7 1.1,12.8, p < 0.05).

Conclusions:

Excessive maternal alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of newborn infection in this patient sample. Increased awareness and further clinical investigations are warranted to address the detrimental effects of fetal alcohol exposure on the developing immune system.

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