Effect of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure on Childhood Academic Outcomes: Contrasting Maternal and Paternal Associations in the ALSPAC Study

Rosa Alati*, George Davey Smith, Sarah J. Lewis, Kapil Sayal, Elizabeth S. Draper, Jean Golding, Robert Fraser, Ron Gray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The impact of low-to-moderate levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy on child cognitive outcomes has been of recent concern. This study has tested the hypothesis that low-to-moderate maternal alcohol use in pregnancy is associated with lower school test scores at age 11 in the offspring via intrauterine mechanisms.

Methods: We used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a birth cohort study based in the South West of England. Analyses were conducted on 7062 participants who had complete data on: maternal and paternal patterns of alcohol use in the first trimester and at 18 weeks' gestation, child's academic outcomes measured at age 11, gender, maternal age, parity, marital status, ethnicity, household crowding, home ownership status and parental education. We contrasted the association of mother's alcohol consumption during pregnancy with child's National Curriculum Key Stage 2 (KS2) test scores with the association for father's alcohol consumption (during the time the mother was pregnant) with child's National Curriculum Key Stage 2 (KS2) test scores. We used multivariate linear regression to estimate mean differences and 95% confidence intervals [CI] in KS2 scores across the exposure categories and computed f statistics to compare maternal and paternal associations.

Findings and conclusions: Drinking up to 1 unit of alcohol a day during pregnancy was not associated with lower test scores. However, frequent prenatal consumption of 4 units (equivalent to 32 grams of alcohol) on each single drinking occasion was associated with reduced educational attainment [Mean change in offspring KS2 score was -0.68 (-1.03, -0.33) for maternal alcohol categories compared to 0.27 (0.07, 0.46) for paternal alcohol categories]. Frequent consumption of 4 units of alcohol during pregnancy may adversely affect childhood academic outcomes via intrauterine mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number74844
Number of pages9
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2013

Keywords

  • LIGHT DRINKING
  • SPECTRUM DISORDERS
  • COGNITIVE DEFICITS
  • BINGE-DRINKING
  • PREGNANCY
  • CHILDREN
  • RISK
  • AGE
  • CONSUMPTION
  • HEALTH

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