Effects of Moderate Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy on Child Development at 18 and 42 Months

Authors

  • Jørn Olsen

    Corresponding author
    1. Danish Epidemiology Science Centre and the Steno Institute of Public Health, the Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Aarhus, Aarhus C, Denmark.
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  • This study was supported by the Medical Research Council, Helsefondet, and Sundhedspuljen (Ministry of Health).

Reprint requests: Jørn Olsen, M.D., the Danish Epidemiology Science Centre and Steno Institute of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Aarhus, Hoegh Guldbergs Gade 8, Dk-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

Abstract

The aim of this study was to estimate the association between moderate alcohol consumption in pregnancy and child development to the age of 3.5 years. Furthermore, the aim was to compare development indices at 18 and 42 months of age. This study is an extension of the Danish participation in the EuroMac study. In a two-stage sampling, pregnant women in a well-defined region (Odense, Denmark) were recruited to a follow-up study according to their reported drinking habits in the first trimester of pregnancy. All among 2880 pregnant women who reported an alcohol consumption early in pregnancy (12th week of gestation) of at least 5 drinks/week were ascertained (164 women). A similar age and expected time of delivery matched group was selected from the remaining group of pregnant women. Alcohol consumption data were based on self-reported data, and child development recording was done blindly by two psychologists at 18 and 42 months after birth. Two hundred fifty-one mother-child pairs participated in all follow-up studies. None of the reported levels of alcohol intake was statistically significantly associated with any of the child development indices (including measures of binge drinking). Comparing child development indices at 18 and 42 months did, however, reveal a rather large variation over time for alcohol exposures, as well as nonexposures. A large variation in the outcome measure will tend to mask effects of any exposures, but nevertheless it is unlikely that a low alcohol intake in pregnancy has any substantial impact on child development.

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