Intrauterine exposure to alcohol and tobacco use and childhood IQ: findings from a parental-offspring comparison within the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children

Pediatr Res. 2008 Dec;64(6):659-66. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e318187cc31.


This study aims to test the hypothesis that moderate maternal alcohol and tobacco use in pregnancy is associated with intelligent quotient (IQ) scores in childhood through intrauterine mechanisms. We conducted parental-offspring comparisons between the associations of tobacco and alcohol consumption with child's IQ in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Analyses were conducted on 4332 participants with complete data on maternal and paternal use of alcohol and tobacco at 18 wk gestation, child's IQ and a range of confounders. IQ was measured at child age 8 with the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III). We used multivariable linear and logistic regression to estimate mean differences and 95% confidence intervals in IQ scores across the exposure categories and computed f statistics to compare maternal and paternal associations. In fully adjusted models, there was no strong statistical evidence that maternal alcohol and tobacco consumption during pregnancy were associated with childhood IQ with any greater magnitude than paternal alcohol and tobacco consumption (also assessed during their partners' pregnancy). Our findings suggest that the relationship between maternal moderate alcohol and tobacco use in early pregnancy and childhood IQ may not be explained by intrauterine mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Fetus / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intelligence / drug effects*
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Nicotine / pharmacology*
  • Nicotinic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Smoking


  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Ethanol
  • Nicotine