Fetal Alcohol-Related Growth Restriction from Birth through Young Adulthood and Moderating Effects of Maternal Prepregnancy Weight
Article first published online: 26 SEP 2012
Copyright © 2012 by the Research Society on Alcoholism
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 37, Issue 3, pages 452–462, March 2013
How to Cite
Carter, R. C., Jacobson, J. L., Sokol, R. J., Avison, M. J. and Jacobson, S. W. (2013), Fetal Alcohol-Related Growth Restriction from Birth through Young Adulthood and Moderating Effects of Maternal Prepregnancy Weight. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37: 452–462. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2012.01940.x
- Issue published online: 28 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 26 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 20 JUL 2012
- Manuscript Received: 19 MAR 2012
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- NIH. Grant Numbers: P50 AA0706, R01 AA09524, R01 AA06966
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. Grant Number: R21 DA021034
- National Center for Research Resources. Grant Numbers: UL1 RR024975, K23 AA020516, KL2 RR025757
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome;
- Prenatal Alcohol Exposure;
- Intrauterine Growth Retardation;
- Postnatal Growth;
- Body Composition;
- Prepregnancy Weight;
- Maternal Nutrition
Fetal alcohol-related growth restriction persists through infancy, but its impact later in life is less clear. Animal studies have demonstrated important roles for maternal nutrition in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, but the impact of prenatal maternal body composition has not been studied in humans. This study examined the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on longitudinal growth from birth through young adulthood and the degree to which maternal weight and body mass index (BMI) moderate these effects.
Nearly 480 mothers were recruited at their first prenatal clinic visit to overrepresent moderate-to-heavy use of alcohol during pregnancy, including a 5% random sample of low-level drinkers and abstainers. They were interviewed at every prenatal visit about their alcohol consumption using a timeline follow-back approach. Their children were examined for weight, length/height, and head circumference at birth, 6.5 and 13 months, and 7.5, 14, and 19 years.
In multiple regression models with repeated measures (adjusted for confounders), prenatal alcohol exposure was associated with longitudinal reductions in weight, height, and weight-for-length/BMI that were largely determined at birth. At low-to-moderate levels of exposure, these effects were more severe in infancy than in later childhood. By contrast, effects persisted among children whose mothers drank at least monthly and among those born to women with alcohol abuse and/or dependence who had consumed ≥ 4 drinks/occasion. In addition, effects on weight, height, and head circumference were markedly stronger among children born to mothers with lower prepregnancy weight.
These findings confirm prior studies demonstrating alcohol-related reductions in weight, height, weight-for-height/BMI, and head circumference that persist through young adulthood. Stronger effects were seen among children born to mothers with smaller prepregnancy weight, which may have been because of attainment of higher blood alcohol concentrations in smaller mothers for a given amount of alcohol intake or to increased vulnerability in infants born to women with poorer nutrition.