Mom’s drinking also tied to infant deaths

March 4, 2013 at 2:39 pm


About one in six sudden infant deaths may be linked to their mothers’ heavy alcohol use during or soon after pregnancy, according to a new study from Australia.

Researchers found those deaths may result from babies being exposed to alcohol in the womb and from alcohol-using mothers creating hazardous environments for the babies after birth.

“One of the morals of the story is that parents should be very careful about drinking alcohol, especially if you’re a single parent because there is no other parent to back you up,” said David Phillips, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, who has studied alcohol-related infant deaths but wasn’t involved in the new research.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – also known as sudden unexpected infant death – as the death of a child under one year old with no obvious cause.

Approximately 4,500 infant deaths fall into this category every year in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Previously, researchers have tied SIDS to parents’ smoking and to unsafe environments, but few studies have looked at whether alcohol could be involved in some of the deaths.

For the new study, the researchers, led by Colleen O’Leary from Curtin University in Perth, examined information on 77,895 women who gave birth between 1983 and 2005.

They compared the number of SIDS and infant deaths that occurred in children of mothers with a diagnosed drinking problem, to cases among the children of mothers without a diagnosis.

Overall, 171 SIDS cases occurred during that time in children born to the 21,841 women who were diagnosed heavy drinkers. Among the children who were born to 56,054 mothers without a diagnosis, there were 132 SIDS cases.

The researchers found that babies born to mothers who drank heavily during pregnancy had a seven-fold increase in the risk of SIDS, compared to children of mothers without a drinking problem.

Babies also had a nine-fold increased risk of SIDS when their mothers drank within the year after birth, compared to babies born to mothers who didn’t drink.

Drinking during pregnancy can also lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays.


Entry filed under: Prevention.

What is it like to have FASD? What about pregnancy and addiction?

%d bloggers like this: