Mamluk L, Edwards HB, Savović J, Leach V, Jones T, Moore THM, Ijaz S, Lewis SJ, Donovan JL, Lawlor D, Smith GD, Fraser A, Zuccolo L (2017) BMJ Open. 2017 Aug 3;7(7): e015410. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015410.
To determine the effects of low-to-moderate levels of maternal alcohol consumption in pregnancy on pregnancy and longer-term offspring outcomes.
Prospective observational studies, negative control and quasiexperimental studies of pregnant women estimating effects of light drinking in pregnancy (≤32 g/week) versus abstaining. Pregnancy outcomes such as birth weight and features of fetal alcohol syndrome were examined.
One reviewer extracted data and another checked extracted data. Random effects meta-analyses were performed where applicable, and a narrative summary of findings was carried out otherwise.
24 cohort and two quasiexperimental studies were included. With the exception of birth size and gestational age, there was insufficient data to meta-analyse or make robust conclusions. Odds of small for gestational age (SGA) and preterm birth were higher for babies whose mothers consumed up to 32 g/week versus none, but estimates for preterm birth were also compatible with no association: summary OR 1.08, 95% CI (1.02 to 1.14), I2 0%, (seven studies, all estimates were adjusted) OR 1.10, 95% CI (0.95 to 1.28), I2 60%, (nine studies, includes one unadjusted estimates), respectively. The earliest time points of exposure were used in the analysis.
Evidence of the effects of drinking ≤32 g/week in pregnancy is sparse. As there was some evidence that even light prenatal alcohol consumption is associated with being SGA and preterm delivery, guidance could advise abstention as a precautionary principle but should explain the paucity of evidence.