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Alcohol. 2010 Nov-Dec;44(7-8):615-21. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2010.04.001. Epub 2010 Jun 26.

Correlation between drugs of abuse and alcohol by hair analysis: parents at risk for having children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1X8.


The fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs) hair test, a biomarker of excessive alcohol exposure, has demonstrated its potential for use in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) diagnosis. FASD may be compounded by polydrug exposure. Our objective was to determine the likelihood of positive FAEE test among parents testing positive for other drugs of abuse. Samples submitted for FAEE hair analysis by Children's Aid Societies between October 2005 and May 2007, also concurrently tested for cocaine, cannabinoids, opiates, methamphetamine, amphetamine, benzodiazepines, methadone, and/or oxycodone, were included in our analysis. Subjects consisted of parents suspected of using excessive amounts of alcohol. Parents testing positive for drugs of abuse had a significantly increased risk for testing positive for high FAEE. Mothers testing positive for heavy chronic alcohol use were found to have a threefold increased risk of testing positive for cocaine (odds ratio=3.26, 1.1-9.7). Our results suggest that parents abusing stimulants are at risk of high alcohol exposure, which put their unborn children at risk for FASD.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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