Moderate maternal alcohol consumption and risk of spontaneous abortion

Gayle C. Windham, Julie Von Behren, Laura Fenster, Catherine Schaefer, Shanna H. Swan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Maternal alcoholism is known to have adverse effects on reproduction and fetal development, but the effects of moderate consumption remain controversial. In a previous case-control study, we found a doubled risk of spontaneous abortion with an average consumption of seven or more drinks per week during the first trimester. To confirm this finding while avoiding potential biases from the case-control design, we examined moderate alcohol consumption in a prospective cohort study of over 5,000 pregnant women. An interview in the first trimester asked about alcohol consumption during the week before interview ('during the first trimester') and before pregnancy. We found an increased risk of spontaneous abortion in women who drank more than three drinks per week during the first trimester, with an adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 2.3 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.1-4.5]. The increased risk associated with this moderate alcohol consumption may be higher in first than in second trimester abortions, and it is even higher in the first 10 weeks (OR = 3.8; 95% CI = 1.7-8.7), based on small numbers. Consumption of alcohol before pregnancy was not strongly associated with spontaneous abortion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-514
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol consumption
  • Binge drinking
  • Pregnancy outcome
  • Smoking
  • Spontaneous abortion


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