The effects of low to moderate alcohol consumption and binge in early pregnancy on selective and sustained attention in 5-year-old children

Department of Public Health, Section of Epidemiology, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
BJOG An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (Impact Factor: 3.45). 06/2012; 119(10):1211-21. DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03396.x
Source: PubMed


The aim was to examine the effects of low to moderate maternal alcohol consumption and binge drinking in early pregnancy on children's attention at 5 years of age.
Prospective follow-up study.
Neuropsychological testing in four Danish cities 2003-2008.
A cohort of 1628 women and their children sampled from the Danish National Birth Cohort.
Participants were sampled based on maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. At 5 years of age, the children were tested with the recently developed Test of Everyday Attention for Children at Five (TEACh-5). Parental education, maternal IQ, maternal smoking in pregnancy, the child's age at testing, gender, and tester were considered core confounding factors, whereas the full model also controlled the following potential confounding factors: maternal binge drinking or low to moderate alcohol consumption, age, body mass index (BMI), parity, home environment, postnatal smoking in the home, child's health status, and indicators for hearing and vision impairments.
TEACh-5 attention scores.
There were no significant effects on test performance in children of mothers drinking up to 8 drinks per week compared with children of mothers who abstained, but there was a significant association between maternal consumption of 9 or more drinks per week and risk of a low overall attention score (OR 3.50, 95% CI 1.15-10.68). No consistent or significant associations were observed between binge drinking and attention test scores.
The findings suggest an effect of maternal consumption of 9 or more drinks per week on attention functions in children, but the study detected no effects of lower levels of maternal consumption and no consistent effects of maternal binge drinking.

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Available from: Ulrik Schiøler Kesmodel, Oct 04, 2014
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    • "Currently, findings from such observational studies are ambiguous. Sometimes they report a negative association between prenatal exposure to low doses of alcohol and mental health development in childhood (Olson et al., 1997; Sood et al., 2001; Sayal et al., 2007), but sometimes they do not (O'Leary et al., 2009; Rodriguez et al., 2009; Skogerbo et al., 2012; Underbjerg et al., 2012; Sayal et al., 2013). Very often they even report a J-shaped association (Kelly et al., 2009, 2012; Robinson et al., 2010), where exposure to lower doses of alcohol apparently acts as a protective factor for the development of mental health problems in childhood. "
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    • "In a review of published studies, Henderson and colleagues concluded that there is no consistent evidence of the harm caused by small to moderate amounts of alcohol consumed during pregnancy [3]. Further studies on specific outcomes published after the review support this conclusion [4-6]. However, no level of alcohol consumption has been determined as completely safe during pregnancy. "
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    • "Some individual children escape diagnoses within the FASD continuum in spite of substantial prenatal alcohol exposure (Abel, 1998; May et al., 2013a; Skogerbø et al., 2012; Underbjerg et al., 2012). Maternal risk to the fetus involves the interaction of biological, familial, historical, social, and psychological influences (Gomberg, 1993), and the relative importance of these co-factors to FAS or other diagnoses within the FASD continuum has been demonstrated elsewhere (Abel and Hannigan, 1995; May et al., 2011, in press). "
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