JOURNAL ARTICLE

Prenatal alcohol exposure and childhood atopic disease: a Mendelian randomization approach

Seif O Shaheen, Clare Rutterford, Luisa Zuccolo, Susan M Ring, George Davey Smith, John W Holloway, A John Henderson
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2014, 133 (1): 225-32.e1-5
23806636

BACKGROUND: Alcohol consumption in western pregnant women is not uncommon and could be a risk factor for childhood atopic disease. However, reported alcohol intake may be unreliable, and associations are likely to be confounded.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to study the relation between prenatal alcohol exposure and atopic phenotypes in a large population-based birth cohort with the use of a Mendelian randomization approach to minimize bias and confounding.

METHODS: In white mothers and children in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) we first analyzed associations between reported maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy and atopic outcomes in the offspring measured at 7 years of age (asthma, wheezing, hay fever, eczema, atopy, and total IgE). We then analyzed the relation of maternal alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH)1B genotype (rs1229984) with these outcomes (the A allele is associated with faster metabolism and reduced alcohol consumption and, among drinkers, would be expected to reduce fetal exposure to ethanol).

RESULTS: After controlling for confounders, reported maternal drinking in late pregnancy was negatively associated with childhood asthma and hay fever (adjusted odds ratio [OR] per category increase in intake: 0.91 [95% CI, 0.82-1.01] and 0.87 [95% CI, 0.78-0.98], respectively). However, maternal ADH1B genotype was not associated with asthma comparing carriers of A allele with persons homozygous for G allele (OR, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.66-1.47]) or hay fever (OR, 1.11 [95% CI, 0.71-1.72]), nor with any other atopic outcome.

CONCLUSION: We have found no evidence to suggest that prenatal alcohol exposure increases the risk of asthma or atopy in childhood.

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