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News: Heavy drinking increases risk of preterm birth, but. . .

Maternal heavy drinking can almost double the risk of preterm birth.

Maternal heavy or binge consumption of alcohol, even before the second trimester of pregnancy, can almost double the risk of preterm birth (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.73; 95% CI; 1.01–3.14), according to the results of a small, population-based cohort study from Australia.

However, the author of an editorial in the same journal as the study reminds readers that 70 g per week of alcohol and no more than two standard drinks on any one occasion have not been linked to preterm birth or small-for-gestational-age infants, and that a high maternal intake of vitamin E during pregnancy may be a greater cause for concern because of its association with an up to ninefold increase in the incidence of congenital heart disease in offspring.

O'Leary CM, Nassar N, Kurinczuk JJ, et al. The effect of maternal alcohol consumption on fetal growth and preterm birth. BJOG. 2009;116:390-400.