Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Binge Drinking During Pregnancy
New evidence from the USA suggests that prenatal binge drinking is linked with heightened dangers of behavioural and mental problems in offspring at the age of seven.

A recent study assessed the consumption of alcohol consumption and drinking pattern of around 500 pregnant women to determine what effect drinking might have on their child. Alcohol consumption was assessed at each visit to the prenatal clinic and the children’s intelligence quotients and behaviour were measured at the age of seven.

The researchers found no relationship with the mothers’ total intake of alcohol and the childs IQ level. However, the children who had been exposed to binge drinking while in the womb were 1.7 times more likely to have IQ scores in the mentally retarded range. They were also 2.5 times more likely to show clinically significant levels of delinquent behaviour.

“These results support the findings of other researchers who suggest that exposure to binge drinking has more deleterious consequences than the overall amount of exposure to alcohol during pregnancy,” the researchers state. “Simply looking at the overall amount of exposure may obscure important prenatal alcohol exposure effects. This may be one reason why several researchers have failed to find an effect of prenatal alcohol exposure on child cognitive and behavioural outcomes.”

This study suggests that the amount of alcohol that is consumed per occasion may be a more critical factor than the overall number of drinks that are consumed per week.

Source: Prenatal Exposure to Binge Drinking and Cognitive and Behavioral Outcomes at Age 7 Years, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2004), 191, l037–43, Nordstrom Bailey B. et al.

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