Maternal alcohol drinking during pregnancy
Previous research has linked maternal drinking during pregnancy to several problems in offspring, including conduct problems, criminal behavior, attention and impulsivity problems and alcohol disorders.
However, new questions have been raised about the strength of the evidence, as some researchers have suggested that certain family processes or genetic risk factors could be associated with both maternal drinking and childhood problems.
For each additional day per week that mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy, their children had an increase in conduct problems. This association remained even after factoring in other variables such as the mothersâ€™ drug use during pregnancy, education level or intellectual ability.
Children whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy also had more attention and impulsivity problems than unrelated children whose mothers did not drink. However, siblings whose mother drank more frequently during one pregnancy had the same level of difficulty with attention and impulsivity.
These results are consistent with prenatal alcohol exposure exerting an environmentally mediated causal effect on childhood conduct problems, but the relation between prenatal alcohol exposure and attention and impulsivity problems is more likely to be caused by other factors correlated with maternal drinking during pregnancy.
These other factors may include the use of tobacco, illegal drugs and other substances in addition to alcohol.