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Last Updated: 2001-08-10 12:24:21 EDT (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Children whose mothers consumed even a small amount of alcohol during pregnancy seem to be at increased risk of behavioral problems later in life.
"This study shows that adverse effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on childhood behavior are seen at lower levels of exposure than previously reported," co-investigator Dr. Virginia Delaney-Black, of Children's Hospital of Michigan, told Reuters Health. She and colleagues report their findings in the August issue of Pediatrics.
In the study, 506 women receiving prenatal care at an urban university hospital answered questions about their alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The women were contacted again when the child was 6 or 7 years old and agreed to have the child tested for behavioral problems.
The investigators found that maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy was linked to problems in children such as aggression, delinquent behavior and attention problems.
"Significantly, children with low levels of prenatal alcohol exposure–equivalent to an average of one cocktail per week across pregnancy–were three times as likely to have delinquent behavior scores in the clinical range," Dr. Delaney-Black told Reuters Health. This was true after the researchers took into account other factors that can influence a child's behavior.
Dr. Delaney-Black and her colleagues recommend that women avoid any amount of alcohol, even a few sips of wine, for the duration of pregnancy.