drinking and delinquency
Even light maternal drinking
increases risk for delinquency Mothers who indulge in even a few
drinks during pregnancy may be putting their offspring at increased
risk for behavior problems, according to a study by Beena Sood and
The researchers collected
data on more than 500 women receiving prenatal care at an urban
university clinic. When the women's children were six to seven years
of age, Sood et al. tested them using the Achenbach Child Behavior
Not surprisingly, maternal
alcohol use during pregnancy was linked to aggression, delinquency,
and attention problems in the children. What did surprise the researchers,
however, was the discovery that even very light drinking was a strong
risk factor for behavior problems.
researchers say, children with low levels of prenatal alcohol exposure
'equivalent to an average of one cocktail per week across pregnancy'
were three times as likely to have delinquent behavior scores in
the clinical range." This finding remained true even after the researchers
controlled for prenatal factors such as maternal age, education,
or use of cigarettes or drugs, and for post-natal factors such as
ongoing maternal substance abuse, family structure, maternal mental
illness, socioeconomic status, exposure to violence, and the children's
blood lead levels.
The researchers conclude,
"We would reinforce the Surgeon General's recommendation that pregnant
women should abstain from drinking during pregnancy."
"Prenatal alcohol exposure
and childhood behavior at age 6 to 7 years: I. dose- response effect,"
B. Sood, V. Delaney-Black, C. Covington, B. Nordstrom-Klee, J. Ager,
T. Templin, J. Janisse, S. Martier, and R. J. Sokol, Pediatrics,
Vol. 108, No. 2, August 2001, E34.
"Even small amounts of
alcohol in pregnancy harmful," Keith Mulvihill, Reuters Health,
August 7, 2001