Dietary patterns and alcohol consumption during pregnancy: secondary analysis of Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children

Victoria Coathup*, Kate Northstone, Ron Gray, Simon Wheeler, Lesley Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
347 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Large general population surveys show that heavy regular and episodic alcohol consumption are associated with lower intakes of fruits and vegetables, and higher intakes of processed and fried meat. This is of particular concern regarding pregnant women, as both alcohol intake and inadequate maternal nutrition are independently associated with adverse fetal outcomes. The current study aimed to determine associations between maternal dietary patterns and alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Methods: Women were participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, and provided details of alcohol consumption at 18 weeks’ gestation and diet at 32 weeks’ gestation (n = 9,839). Dietary patterns were derived from the food frequency questionnaire data using principal components analysis. Associations between alcohol consumption and dietary patterns were determined using multiple linear regression, adjusted for various sociodemographic and lifestyle factors. Results: After adjustment, drinking ≥1 unit/d during the first trimester (β = 0.23 [95% CI: 0.08, 0.38]; p = 0.002) and binge drinking (≥4 units in 1 day) during the first half of pregnancy (β = 0.14 [95% CI: 0.07, 0.21]; p < 0.0001) were associated with greater adherence to the “Processed” dietary pattern (high intakes of processed meat and low intakes of fruit and vegetables). Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption (≤1 drink/d) during the first trimester was associated with greater adherence to the “Health conscious” dietary pattern (high intakes of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish) (β = 0.09 [95% CI: 0.04, 0.14]; p < 0.0001). Conclusions: Two important components of health behavior during pregnancy appear to be related: greater consumption of processed foods associated with heavier alcohol consumption, and healthier dietary choices associated with light-to-moderate alcohol intake. Potential synergistic effects of these behaviors may have implications for maternal and fetal health and warrant further investigation. A more holistic approach to addressing health behaviors in women of reproductive age is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1120-1128
Number of pages9
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number6
Early online date19 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • gestation
  • heavy episodic drinking
  • maternal health
  • nutrition


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