Background: Deficits in information processing may be a core deficit after fetal alcohol exposure. This study was designed to investigate the possible effects of weekly low to moderate maternal alcohol consumption and binge drinking episodes in early pregnancy on choice reaction time (CRT) and information processing time (IPT) in young children.
Method: Participants were sampled based on maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. At the age of 60-64 months, 1,333 children were administered a modified version of the Sternberg paradigm to assess CRT and IPT. In addition, a test of general intelligence (WPPSI-R) was administered.
Results: Adjusted for a wide range of potential confounders, this study showed no significant effects of average weekly maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy on CRT or IPT. There was, however, an indication of slower CRT associated with binge drinking episodes in gestational weeks 1-4.
Conclusion: This study observed no significant effects of average weekly maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy on CRT or IPT as assessed by the Sternberg paradigm. However, there were some indications of CRT being associated with binge drinking during very early pregnancy. Further large-scale studies are needed to investigate effects of different patterns of maternal alcohol consumption on basic cognitive processes in offspring.