OBJECTIVE: To examine whether the frequency and timing of binge drinking episodes (intake of five or more drinks on one occasion) during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy increase the risk of fetal death. METHODS: The study is based upon data from 89,201 women who were enrolled in the Danish National Birth Cohort from 1996 to 2002 and participated in an interview that took place in midpregnancy (n=86,752) or after a fetal loss (n=2,449). In total, 3,714 pregnancies resulted in fetal death. Data were analyzed by means of Cox regression models. RESULTS: Neither the frequency nor the timing of binge episodes was related to the risk of early (at or before 12 completed weeks) or late (13-21 completed weeks) spontaneous abortion. However, three or more binge episodes showed an adjusted hazard ratio of 1.56 (95% confidence interval 1.01-2.40) for stillbirth (22 or more completed weeks) relative to nonbinge drinkers. Women with an average intake of three or more drinks per week and two or more binge drinking episodes had a hazard ratio of 2.20 (95% confidence interval 1.73-2.80) compared with women with no average intake and no binge drinking. CONCLUSION: Binge drinking three or more times during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of stillbirth, but neither frequency nor timing of binge drinking was associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion in clinically recognized pregnancies.
Keywords: Alcohol Drinking; Central Nervous System Depressants; Cohort Studies; Denmark; Ethanol; Female; Fetal Death; Humans; Pregnancy; Pregnancy Trimester, First; Pregnancy Trimester, Second; Proportional Hazards Models; Risk; Stillbirth