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Alcohol use in pregnancy, craniofacial features, and fetal growth.
  1. A Rostand,
  2. M Kaminski,
  3. N Lelong,
  4. P Dehaene,
  5. I Delestret,
  6. C Klein-Bertrand,
  7. D Querleu,
  8. G Crepin
  1. INSERM Unit 149, Epidemiological Research on Maternal and Child Health, Villejuif, France.


    STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim was to study the relationship between the level of alcohol consumption in pregnancy and craniofacial characteristics of the neonate. DESIGN--This was a prospective survey of a sample of pregnant women, stratified on prepregnancy level of alcohol consumption. SETTING--The study was carried out at the public antenatal clinic of Roubaix maternity hospital. PARTICIPANTS--During an eight month period, 684 women (89% of those eligible) were interviewed in a standardised way at their first antenatal clinic visit. Of these, all who were suspected of being alcoholic or heavy drinkers (at least 21 drinks per week) were selected for follow up, as was a subsample of light (0-6 drinks per week) and moderate (7-20 drinks per week) drinkers. Of 347 women selected in this way, 202 had their infants assessed by a standardised morphological examination. MEASUREMENTS AND AND MAIN RESULTS--Suggestive craniofacial characteristics of the infants, present either in isolation or in association with growth retardation ("fetal alcohol effects"), were compared in relation to maternal alcohol consumption (alcoholic 12%; heavy drinking 24%; moderate drinking 28%; light drinking 36%). No differences were found between light and moderate drinkers. Infants born to alcoholics had a greater number of craniofacial characteristics and the proportion with features compatible with fetal alcohol effects was higher. There was a similar trend for infants of heavy drinkers. Infants of heavy drinkers who had decreased their alcohol consumption during pregnancy had fewer craniofacial features. Infants of heavy smokers were also found to have increased numbers of craniofacial characteristics. CONCLUSIONS--Craniofacial morphology could be a sensitive indicator of alcohol exposure in utero. Altered morphology is usually considered specific for alcohol exposure, but the relation observed with smoking needs further exploration.

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