Objectives: The purpose of the study was to examine the effect of prenatal alcohol exposure on offspring's weight, height, and head circumference from birth through 14 years of age.
Methods: This longitudinal prospective study examined a cohort of approximately 500 offspring (oversampled for heavier drinkers and stratified for smoking from a population of 1529 women in prenatal care at the 5th gestational month) at birth; 8 and 18 months; and 4, 7, and 14 years of age. Covariates were examined by means of multiple regression. Birth size measures were also examined as predictors of 7-year neurodevelopmental outcomes.
Results: Effects of alcohol were observed on weight, length, and head circumference at birth; these effects were not altered by adjustment for covariates including smoking. However, the birthweight effect is clearly transient: although alcohol effects remained observable at 8 months, they were not measurable thereafter through age 14 years.
Conclusions: In this population-based sample, neither birthweight nor any later size measure was as useful an indicator of the enduring effects of prenatal alcohol exposure as were certain neurodevelopmental outcomes.