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Publication - Professor George Davey Smith

    The effect of increased alcohol availability on alcohol-related health problems up to the age of 42 among children exposed in utero

    a natural experiment

    Citation

    Thern, E, Carslake, D, Smith, GD, Tynelius, P & Rasmussen, F, 2017, ‘The effect of increased alcohol availability on alcohol-related health problems up to the age of 42 among children exposed in utero: a natural experiment’. Alcohol and Alcoholism.

    Abstract

    Aim: To examine whether exposure to increased alcohol availability in utero is associated with later alcohol-related health problems.
    Method: A register linked population-based longitudinal study using data from a natural experiment setting was conducted, including 363 286 children born 1965-71. An experimental alcohol policy change was piloted in two regions of Sweden in 1967-68, where access to strong beer increased for 16-20 year-olds. Children exposed in utero to the policy change were compared to children born elsewhere in Sweden (excluding a border area), and to children born before and after the policy change. The outcome was obtained from the National Hospital
    Discharge Register using the Swedish index of alcohol-related inpatient care. Hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by Cox regression analysis.
    Results: The results suggest that children conceived by young mothers prior to the policy change but exposed to it in utero had a slightly increased risk of alcohol-related health problems later in life (HR 1.26, 95% CI 0.94-1.68). A tendency towards an inverse association was found among children conceived by older mothers (HR 0.88, 95% CI 0.74-1.06).
    Conclusion: The results obtained from a natural experiment setting found no consistent evidence of long-term health consequences among children exposed in utero to an alcohol policy change. Some evidence however suggested an increased risk of alcohol-related health problems among the exposed children of young mothers.

    Full details in the University publications repository