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Prenatal exposure to alcohol, and gender differences on child mental health at age seven years
  1. J Niclasen1,
  2. A M Nybo Andersen2,
  3. T W Teasdale1,
  4. K Strandberg-Larsen2
  1. 1Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Janni Niclasen, Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 2A, Copenhagen K 1353, Denmark; Janni.niclasen{at}psy.ku.dk

Abstract

Background It remains uncertain whether exposure to lower doses of alcohol is damaging to the developing fetus. The present study aimed to investigate associations for boys and girls between prenatal exposure to binge drinking and lower doses of alcohol in pregnancy, and parent-reported behavioural and emotional development at age seven.

Methods This study used data from the Danish National Birth Cohort. Associations between cumulated alcohol exposure and binge drinking from full pregnancy and parent scores on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) measured at age seven were investigated. The SDQ was used as continuous externalising/internalising scores, and as above/below cut-off for the specific scales of hyperactivity/inattention, conduct, emotional and peer problems. Inclusion criteria were information on alcohol exposure from three interviews, SDQ scores at age seven and being born full term (n=37 152).

Results Controlling for relevant confounders, small positive associations were observed between binge drinking and internalising (relative change in mean: 1.04–1.06), externalising scores (relative change in mean: 1.01–1.07), and conduct scores (OR 1.12 to 1.23) for boys. No associations were observed with lower doses of alcohol.

Conclusions Exposure to binge drinking is weakly associated with impaired behavioural and emotional development measured at age seven. Large differences in background characteristics were observed between the groups defined by cumulated alcohol exposure, leaving the interpretations of findings uncertain.

  • ALCOHOL
  • PREGNANCY
  • CHILD HEALTH
  • Cohort studies
  • EPIDEMIOLOGY

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