Protective effects of the alcohol dehydrogenase-ADH1B allele in children exposed to alcohol during pregnancy

J Pediatr. 2006 Jan;148(1):30-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2005.08.023.


Objectives: To examine alcohol use for mothers with and without an ADH1B*3 allele and the moderating effects of the maternal and child ADH1B*3 allele on a broad range of infant and 7.5-year outcomes.

Study design: Blood samples from 263 black mother/child pairs (217 mothers and 239 children) were analyzed to determine incidence of the ADH1B allele and the relation of the maternal allele to pregnancy drinking assessed at every prenatal clinic visit. Moderating effects of ADH1B were examined by dichotomizing the moderator variable and performing regression analyses on the 2 groups.

Results: Pregnancy drinking at conception was less frequent in the presence of the ADH1B*3 allele, and virtually no adverse effects were found in children whose mothers had at least one ADH1B*3 allele. By contrast to the maternal allele, we found no consistent pattern of greater vulnerability in children lacking the ADH1B*3 allele.

Conclusions: These data are consistent with the hypothesis that the maternal ADH1B*3 allele provides some protection to the fetus from prenatal alcohol exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / blood
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology
  • Alcohol Drinking / genetics*
  • Alcohol-Induced Disorders / etiology
  • Alcohol-Induced Disorders / genetics
  • Alleles
  • Black People / genetics
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Regression Analysis


  • ADH1B protein, human
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase