Determining the pattern and prevalence of alcohol consumption in pregnancy by measuring biomarkers in meconium

Abernethy, C., McCall, K. E., Cooper, G., Favretto, D., Vaiano, F., Bertol, E. and Mactier, H. (2018) Determining the pattern and prevalence of alcohol consumption in pregnancy by measuring biomarkers in meconium. Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition, 103(3), F216-F220. (doi:10.1136/archdischild-2016-311686) (PMID:28676561)

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Abstract

Objective: To investigate the feasibility of determining the pattern and prevalence of alcohol consumption in pregnancy by measuring ethanol biomarkers in meconium. Design: Population-based observational study. Setting: Inner-city maternity unit in Scotland, UK. Population: Random sample of singleton infants delivered after 36 completed weeks’ gestation. Methods: Fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs) and ethyl glucuronide (EtG) in meconium were measured by liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy. Samples were frozen at −20°C before analysis. Results were compared anonymously with demographic data including maternal age, parity, smoking, ethnicity and postcode and with infant gestation, birth weight and head circumference. Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects. Results: 235 samples of meconium were analysed (70% of eligible babies). Only four (1%) of mothers declined to participate. FAAEs were detected in all, including four samples below the limit of quantification (10 ng/g). 98 (42%) samples had FAEE concentrations >600 ng/g. EtG was detectable in 93 (40%) samples; in 35 (15%) EtG concentration was >30 ng/g. No mother reported heavy alcohol consumption in pregnancy. FAAE concentration correlated with EtG (Pearson’s coefficient; p<0.001). There was no association between either biomarker and maternal age, parity, smoking, ethnicity or postcode, or infant gestation, birth weight or head circumference. Conclusion: Measurement of ethanol biomarkers in meconium is a feasible tool for determining the pattern and prevalence of alcohol consumption in pregnancy. Data suggest that at least 15% of pregnant women in the west of Scotland are consuming significant quantities of alcohol during latter pregnancy.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The study was funded by a grant from Scottish government (CASE 126426/Meconium).
Keywords:Ethylglucuronide, fatty acid ethyl esters, meconium, newborn.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:MacTier, Dr Helen and Cooper, Dr Gail
Authors: Abernethy, C., McCall, K. E., Cooper, G., Favretto, D., Vaiano, F., Bertol, E., and Mactier, H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN:1359-2998
ISSN (Online):1468-2052
Published Online:04 July 2017

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