The relation between maternal alcohol use and intraventricular hemorrhage in 349 prematures weighing 2000 g or less was examined by the Neonatal Brain Hemorrhage Study Team at the Epidemiology Department, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI; National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, N Carolina; and the Dept of Pediatrics and Clinical Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA. Infants of women reporting “high” alcohol use (7 or more drinks per week and/or 3 or more per occasion) during preganancy were at increased risk of developing brain hemorrhage and white matter damage. [1]

COMMENT. Premature infants of mothers who are high alcohol consumers during pregnancy have an increased risk of brain damage. Mothers’ alcohol use before pregnancy had no observed adverse effect on the infant. However, alcohol taken during breast feeding may cause delay in motor development. (see Progress in Pediatric Neurology I, Chicago, PNB Publ, 1991, pp448-50).

The fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) in adolescence was studied in 44 patients followed for 10-14 years at the Department of Pediatrics, Rittberg Hospital of the German Red Cross, Berlin, Germany, and the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Zurich, Switzerland [2]. Although the pronounced growth retardation and dysmorphism of the early childhood FAS diminishes in the older child, a characteristic syndrome remains. The “juvenile” pattern of FAS showed the following features: microcephaly, growth retardation, cognitive deficits, behavioral problems, and craniofacial dysmorphism consisting of short palpebral fissures, thin upper lip, prominent nasal bridge, maxillary hypoplasia, strabismus, and malaligned teeth.

In a study of 64 families with alcoholism at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, children had retarded development and more behavioral problems than controls until 4 years of age. Boys were more vulnerable than girls. Behavioral disorders were more pronounced when both parents were alcoholic. [3]