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An Pediatr (Barc). 2012 Jun;76(6):324-8. doi: 10.1016/j.anpedi.2011.09.016. Epub 2011 Nov 21.

[Validity of a maternal alcohol consumption questionnaire in detecting prenatal exposure].

[Article in Spanish]

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Unitat de Recerca Infància i Entorn, Servicio de Pediatría, IMIM-Hospital del Mar, Parc de Salut Mar, Red SAMID, Barcelona, Spain.



Ethanol consumption by pregnant women can produce severe effects in the foetus and the newborn, mainly in neurological and weight-height development, and are included in the term FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). Questionnaires are the most used screening method to detect prenatal exposure, but a previous population study questioned its reliability. The objective of this study was to compare alcohol prenatal exposure detection by questionnaire compared with biomarkers in meconium.


Sixty two meconium samples from mothers who denied alcohol consumption during pregnancy by questionnaire were analysed. The objective analysis was made by determination of FAEEs (fatty acid ethyl esters) as exposure biomarkers in meconium as biological matrix.


In the meconium from 10 of 62 newborns from non-alcohol consuming mothers by questionnaire (16.12%) FAEE values were positive (≥ 2 nmol/g).


Questionnaires as a screening method during pregnancy are not a reliable tool. It is necessary to identify prenatal exposure to alcohol as soon as possible by biomarkers analysis in biological matrices from the newborn or the mother. The early detection will allow these patients to benefit from follow up and treatment to reach the best possible neurological development.

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