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Light drinking in pregnancy and mid-childhood mental health and learning outcomes
  1. Kapil Sayal1,
  2. Elizabeth S Draper2,
  3. Robert Fraser3,
  4. Margaret Barrow4,
  5. George Davey Smith5,
  6. Ron Gray6
  1. 1Section of Developmental Psychiatry, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  2. 2Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  3. 3Reproductive and Developmental Medicine, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  4. 4Department of Clinical Genetics, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK
  5. 5School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  6. 6National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kapil Sayal, Section of Developmental Psychiatry, University of Nottingham, E Floor, South Block, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK; kapil.sayal{at}nottingham.ac.uk

Abstract

Objective To investigate whether light drinking in pregnancy is associated with adverse child mental health and academic outcomes.

Design Using data from the prospective, population-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), we investigated the associations between light drinking in pregnancy (<1 glass per week in the first trimester) and child mental health (using both parent and teacher rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires (SDQs)) and academic outcomes based on Key Stage 2 examination results at age 11 years.

Participants 11-year-old children from ALSPAC with parent (n=6587) and teacher (n=6393) completed SDQs and data from Key Stage 2 examination results (n=10 558).

Results 39% of women had consumed <1 glass per week and 16% ≥1 glass per week of alcohol during the first trimester (45% abstaining). After adjustment, relative to abstainers, there was no effect of light drinking on teacher-rated SDQ scores or examination results. In girls, although there was a suggestion of worse outcomes (adjusted regression coefficient=0.38; 95% CI 0.01 to 0.74) on the parent-rated total SDQ score in those exposed to light drinking compared to abstainers, no dose–response relationship was evident.

Conclusions Although the pattern of findings involving parent ratings for girls exposed to light drinking is consistent with earlier findings from this cohort, the overall lack of any adverse effects of light drinking is similar to findings from other recent cohort studies. Light drinking in pregnancy does not appear to be associated with clinically important adverse effects for mental health and academic outcomes at the age of 11 years.

  • Epidemiology
  • Child Psychiatry

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