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Each Week of Early Alcohol Use Tied to Incremental Miscarriage Risk

Risk increased even at low levels of consumption and when excluding binge drinking in first trimester

woman drinking

THURSDAY, Aug. 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Each additional week of alcohol exposure during the first trimester of pregnancy increases the risk for spontaneous abortion, according to a study published online July 12 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Alexandra C. Sundermann, M.D., Ph.D., from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues evaluated the association between week-by-week alcohol consumption in early pregnancy and spontaneous abortion using data from the Right from the Start community-based prospective pregnancy cohort, with 5,353 women from various metropolitan areas in the United States (2000 to 2012).

The researchers found that 49.7 percent of women reported using alcohol during early pregnancy and 12.0 percent miscarried. The median gestational age when women reported a change in alcohol use was 29 days. There was an association between alcohol use during weeks 5 through 10 from last menstrual period with increased spontaneous abortion risk. Risk peaked for use in week 9. There was an 8 percent increase in spontaneous abortion for each successive week of alcohol use versus those who did not drink (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.08). The risk was cumulative but not related to number of drinks per week, beverage type, or binge drinking.

"Levels of use that women, and some care providers, may believe are responsible are harmful, and no amount can be suggested as safe regarding pregnancy loss," a coauthor said in a statement.

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