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Maternal alcohol use increases the risk of newborn infections

the damaging effects of fetal alcohol exposure, however, has been on the effects of alcohol to the developing brain. Since the entire developing fetus is exposed to alcohol in utero, other organ systems, including the immune system and the lungs, are similarly exposed to alcohol but the risks to these systems have not been similarly identified. Therefore, we investigated the risk of infection using an existing database which identified and examined alcohol-exposed pregnancies."

Researchers examined data gathered from 872 women who delivered single infants at 36 to 42 weeks of gestation at two large delivery hospitals in Atlanta, Georgia between February 1993 and December 1994. Following delivery, mothers were asked about alcohol and tobacco use in the three months prior to conception, and during the first, second and third trimester of pregnancy. Information, including gender, gestational age, and size relative to gestational age, was also collected about their infants.

"Of the 872 term infants, 5.8 percent or 51 infants had newborn infections diagnosed after delivery," said Gauthier. "Mothers who reported alcohol use, excessive drinking or smoking in pregnancy were more likely to have a newborn diagnosed with an infection than were mothers who reported abstaining from alcohol or cigarettes. Once we controlled for low maternal income, smoking, and for the baby being smaller than it should be, excessive alcohol use, especially during the second trimester, increased the risk of newborn infection by more than three times relative to babies whose mothers reported not drinking alcohol in the second trimester."

However, she added, although the greatest risk of infection occurred with excessive drinking during the second trimester, further research is needed to determine if drinking at this particular time is more damaging than at others.

Maternal smoking at any time point before and during pregnancy also increased th
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14-Jun-2005


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