Binge drinking during pregnancy and risk of seizures in childhood: a study based on the Danish National Birth Cohort

Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Feb 1;169(3):313-22. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn334. Epub 2008 Dec 8.


Seizures are often found in children with fetal alcohol syndrome, but it is not known whether binge drinking during pregnancy by nonalcoholic women is associated with an increased risk of seizure disorders in children. The authors conducted a population-based cohort study of 80,526 liveborn singletons in the Danish National Birth Cohort (1996-2002). Information on maternal binge drinking (intake of > or = 5 drinks on a single occasion) was collected in 2 computer-assisted telephone interviews during pregnancy. Children were followed for up to 8 years. Information on neonatal seizures, epilepsy, and febrile seizures was retrieved from the Danish National Hospital Register. Results showed that exposure to binge drinking episodes during pregnancy was not associated with an increased risk of seizure disorders in children, except for those exposed at 11-16 gestational weeks. These children had a 3.15-fold increased risk of neonatal seizures (95% confidence interval: 1.37, 7.25) and a 1.81-fold increased risk of epilepsy (95% confidence interval: 1.13, 2.90). These findings suggest that maternal binge drinking during a specific time period of pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk of specific seizure disorders in the offspring. The results are exploratory, however, and need to be replicated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Seizures / epidemiology*
  • Seizures, Febrile / epidemiology