A few episodes of drinking four or more alcoholic beverages a day during pregnancy may increase the risk of childhood mental health problems in the offspring, according to a report in the journal Paediatrics.
"Patterns of alcohol consumption during pregnancy such as episodes of binge drinking may be as important as average levels of consumption in conferring risk for later childhood mental health and learning problems," Dr Kapil Sayal, from the University of Nottingham, UK, and co-researchers note.
Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, the researchers examined the effects of binge drinking during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy on childhood mental health. Included were 6 355 children followed through 47 months of age and 5 599 followed through 81 months.
Drinking ups hyperactivity risk
Binge consumption of four or more alcoholic drinks in a day increased the risk of mental health problems, especially hyperactivity, for girls at both 47 and 81 months and for boys at 81 months. These associations persisted, even in the absence of regular daily consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. Binge drinking did not seem to affect IQ after accounting for the possible effects of other risk factors.
"Taken together with our earlier findings on the effects of occasional drinking in the first trimester, there seem to be consistent effects on child mental health from both background low level alcohol consumption and occasional episodes of heavier drinking," the authors conclude. - (Reuters Health)
SOURCE: Paediatrics, February 2009.
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