Low-to-moderate prenatal alcohol consumption and the risk of selected birth outcomes: a prospective cohort study

Ann Epidemiol. 2015 Jan;25(1):46-54.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.10.011. Epub 2014 Oct 16.


Purpose: To estimate whether low-to-moderate prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with selected birth outcomes.

Methods: Low-to-moderate prenatal alcohol drinking and effects on low birthweight, preterm delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, and selected neonatal outcomes were evaluated among 4496 women and singleton infants. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using multivariable logistic regression, controlling for confounding variables.

Results: Early pregnancy drinking was associated with reduced odds of low birthweight, OR, 0.66 (95% CI, 0.46-0.96) and birth length less than 10th percentile, OR, 0.74 (95% CI, 0.56-0.97). Drinking during the first 3 months showed lower odds for birth length and head circumference less than 10th percentile, OR, 0.56 (95% CI, 0.36-0.87) and OR, 0.69 (95% CI, 0.50-0.96), respectively. Third trimester drinking was associated with lower odds for low birthweight, OR, 0.56 (95% CI, 0.34-0.94) and preterm delivery, OR, 0.60 (95% CI, 0.42-0.87).

Conclusions: Our results suggest low-to-moderate alcohol exposure during early and late gestation is not associated with increased risk of low birthweight, preterm delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, and most selected perinatal outcomes.

Keywords: Alcohol; Birth outcomes; IUGR; Low birthweight; Preterm delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Connecticut / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / epidemiology*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / etiology
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology*
  • Premature Birth / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors