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Low-level alcohol consumption in early pregnancy may not affect child intelligence, attention or executive function at 5 years of age

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Question: How do different alcohol drinking patterns in early to mid pregnancy affect the child's intelligence, attention and executive function?

Population: 1628 women, drawn originally from the Danish National Birth Cohort, recruited at their first antenatal visit to a general practitioner.

Setting: Denmark; 1997–2008.

Prognostic factors: Average alcohol intake during early to mid pregnancy (median 17 weeks of gestation, range 7–39 weeks), categorised into four groups by number of standard drinks (containing 12 g of pure alcohol) consumed per week: (1) zero; (2) 1–4; (3) 5–8 and (4) 9 or more. In addition, frequency and timing of binge drinking (5 or more drinks on a single occasion) were recorded. Women were divided into ‘any binge drinking’ (1 or more episodes) and ‘no binge drinking’ categories. Potential confounding factors were adjusted for in the analyses.

Outcomes: Offspring intelligence, attention and executive function at age 5 years. Intelligence was assessed using the shortened forms of the Wechsler Primary and Preschool Scales of Intelligence—Revised (WPPSI-R). Attention (selective attention and sustained …

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  • Correspondence to: Dr US Kesmodel, Department of Public Health, Section of Epidemiology, Aarhus University, Bartholins Allé 2, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark;

  • Sources of funding: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Danish National Board of Health, the Lundbeck Foundation, Ludvig & Sara Elsaas’ Foundation, the Augustinus Foundation and Aase & Ejnar Danielsen's Foundation.


  • Competing interests None.