Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is one potential risk factor for spontaneous abortion (SAb). Prior research suggested that heavy drinking during pregnancy was associated with significantly increased rates of SAb, but results for lower levels of drinking have been inconsistent. We examined the association between different levels and patterns of prenatal alcohol consumption and SAb in a high-risk inner-city sample. We hypothesized that higher levels, binge patterns, and more frequent drinking would be associated with increased rates of SAb. The quantity and frequency of self-reported peri-conceptional and repeated in-pregnancy maternal drinking volumes per beverage type were assessed with semi-structured interviews in a prospective subsample of 302 African-American mothers. Relations between various measures of prenatal alcohol exposure and SAb were assessed using logistic regression. After controlling for various potential confounders, there was a significant positive relation between average absolute alcohol use per day across pregnancy and SAb. Greater frequency of drinking episodes also predicted SAb: an average of even one day of drinking per week across pregnancy was associated with an increase in the incidence of SAb. However, contrary to our hypothesis, neither the amount of alcohol drunk per drinking day nor a measure of binge drinking was significantly related to SAb after controlling for confounders. Differences in when women who drank at risk levels initiated antenatal care may have under-estimated the impact of alcohol on SAb in this low-SES urban African-American sample. Some drinking measures averaged across pregnancy may have under-estimated consumption and overestimated risk of SAb, but other risk drinking measures that avoid this limitation show similar relations to SAb. Identifying fetal risk drinking in pregnant women is critical to increasing the effectiveness of interventions that reduce risk level alcohol consumption and protect from pregnancy loss.
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)
- Risk drinking
- Spontaneous abortion (miscarriage)