Drinking during pregnancy and children’s test scores
Sarah Lewis, Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder, George L Wehby, Luisa Zuccolo 08 March 2014
Excessive drinking during pregnancy is known to harm the foetus, but estimating the effects of moderate prenatal alcohol consumption is difficult, since mothers who choose to drink may differ systematically from those who do not. This column presents recent research showing that a genetic variant in a maternal alcohol-metabolising gene (ADH1B) is negatively related to prenatal alcohol exposure, and unrelated to any of the background characteristics associated with prenatal drinking. Using this genetic variant as an ‘instrumental variable’, the authors find strong negative effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on child educational achievement.
The US Surgeon General first published a report on drinking during pregnancy in 1981, drawing attention to the link between prenatal alcohol consumption and birth defects (Office of the US Surgeon General 1981). The detrimental effects of excessive drinking during pregnancy are now well-known – it potentially leads to a pattern of mental and physical defects known as Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The effects of low-to-moderate drinking, however, are less conclusive, and there is no consensus as to what level of exposure is toxic to the foetus.
education, alcohol, pregnancy
Tobacco and alcohol: Interdependence in consumption?
Harald Tauchmann, Silja Göhlmann, Till Requate, Christoph M Schmidt 08 June 2008
Recent results based on a large German micro data set show that tobacco and alcohol are complements. Smoking bans are thus likely to reduce alcohol consumption too, but not by much. One cigarette less per day reduces drinking by 1% of a half-pint of beer. Smoke-free pubs are not in danger of becoming alcohol-free too.
Tobacco kills. No surprise then that smoking faces increasingly severe restrictions. Even in Germany, one of the last rich countries to introduce such restrictions, smoking was recently banned from public sector buildings and public transport, and smoking bans in bars and restaurants are being introduced state by state.
Germany, smoking ban, alcohol