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Light Drinking in Pregnancy Not a Cause of Childhood Problems

Last Updated: October 11, 2010.

At age 5, children of women who were light drinkers during pregnancy do not have higher risk of socioemotional or cognitive deficits than those of women who did not drink at all in pregnancy, according to a study published online Oct. 5 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

MONDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- At age 5, children of women who were light drinkers during pregnancy do not have higher risk of socioemotional or cognitive deficits than those of women who did not drink at all in pregnancy, according to a study published online Oct. 5 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Yvonne J. Kelly, Ph.D., of the University College London, and colleagues grouped 11,513 subjects in the U.K. Millennium Cohort Study according to their mothers self-reports of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The five categories were: never a drinker, no drinking in pregnancy, light drinker, moderate drinker, and heavy/binge drinker. The researchers assessed the subjects at age 5 on the strengths and difficulties questionnaire and British ability scales.

Compared to children whose mothers did not drink in pregnancy, the researchers found that children born to light drinkers were less likely to have high total difficulties scores and were less likely to be hyperactive. Children born to light drinkers also had higher mean cognitive test scores than those born to mothers who did not drink in pregnancy. High total difficulties and hyperactivity did increase among the children of moderate and heavy/binge drinkers, though there were few subjects in those categories and the differences were attenuated by adjustment.

"At age 5 years, cohort members born to mothers who drank up to one to two drinks per week or per occasion during pregnancy were not at increased risk of clinically relevant behavioral difficulties or cognitive deficits compared with children of mothers in the not-in-pregnancy group," the authors write.

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