Prenatal alcohol exposure and facial morphology in a UK cohort

Laurence J. Howe, Gemma C. Sharp, Gibran Hemani, Luisa Zuccolo, Stephen Richmond, Sarah J. Lewis*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

12 Citations (Scopus)
138 Downloads (Pure)


High levels of prenatal alcohol exposure are known to cause an array of adverse outcomes including fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS); however, the effects of low to moderate exposure are less-well characterized. Previous findings suggest that differences in normal-range facial morphology may be a marker for alcohol exposure and related adverse effects.

In the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, we tested for an association between maternal alcohol consumption and six FAS-related facial phenotypes in their offspring, using both self-report questionnaires and the maternal genotype at rs1229984 in ADH1B as measures of maternal alcohol consumption.

In both self-reported alcohol consumption (N = 4233) and rs1229984 genotype (N = 3139) analyses, we found no strong statistical evidence for an association between maternal alcohol consumption and facial phenotypes tested. The directions of effect estimates were compatible with the known effects of heavy alcohol exposure, but confidence intervals were largely centered around zero.

There is no strong evidence, in a sample representative of the general population, for an effect of prenatal alcohol exposure on normal-range variation in facial morphology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-47
Number of pages6
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Early online date5 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Alcohol
  • Facial morphology
  • Mendelian randomization


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