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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2002 Oct;26(10):1584-91.

Prenatal alcohol exposure predicts continued deficits in offspring size at 14 years of age.

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Western Psychiatric Institute, and clinic of the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213-2593, USA.



Growth deficits are among the cardinal features for the diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome. Growth deficits have also been noted among those who were exposed to alcohol prenatally but who do not have fetal alcohol syndrome. Few studies have observed subjects past early and middle childhood, however, to evaluate the longer-term effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on growth in adolescence. This is a report of the effects of alcohol exposure during gestation on the size of the offspring at 14 years of age.


Women were recruited in their fourth prenatal month. These women were interviewed in the fourth and seventh months of pregnancy and at delivery. The women and their children were seen when the offspring were 14 years of age.


Growth deficits associated with prenatal alcohol exposure were identified among the offspring at 14 years of age. Weight, height, head circumference, and skinfold thickness continued to be significantly affected by prenatal alcohol exposure after controlling for other significant predictors of size. These effects exhibited a dose-response pattern, and significant effects were found at levels below one drink per day. For example, first trimester alcohol exposure predicted weights of 152 lbs for the offspring of abstainers, 149 lbs for the offspring of light drinkers (>0 and <0.2 drinks per day), 143 lbs for the offspring of moderate drinkers (>0.2 and <0.89 drinks per day), and 136 lbs for the offspring of heavy drinkers (>0.89 drinks per day).


Prenatal alcohol exposure continues to affect size at age 14 years in this cohort of children followed since their fourth month of gestation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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