Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol

Published Online: Sunday, June 1, 2003

Mothers who drink during pregnancy may be putting their unborn child at risk for developing a drinking problem as an adult, according to an article published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The researchers used information from 433 families and offspring of mothers who were first examined in 1974-1975 when they were ~5 months pregnant. Family history of alcohol problems was determined through interviews with the parents when the children were 14 years old, and when the children were 21 years old they provided self-reports on drinking habits.

At the 21-year follow-up, 359 reported themselves as current drinkers and 74 as lifelong or current abstainers. They reported drinking, on average, 5.77 times per month, with an average of 3.79 drinks per occasion. Consistent with national survey samples, 36.5% reported drinking 5 or more drinks on at least 1 occasion during the past month. Of the 433, 35 scored at or above 10 on the Alcohol Dependence scales, indicating at least mild alcohol dependence, the article said.

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