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To investigate the association of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and early neurodevelopment in the first 2 years of life, adjusting for maternal sociodemographic and psychosocial factors, in the Drakenstein Child Health Study (DCHS), a South African birth cohort study.
The DCHS comprises a population-based birth cohort of 1143 children, of which, a subsample completed the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-III (BSID-III) at 6 (n = 260) and 24 months of age (n = 734). A subset of alcohol exposed, and unexposed children was included in this analysis at age 6 months (n = 52 exposed; n = 104 unexposed) and 24 months (n = 92 exposed; n=184 unexposed). Multiple hierarchical regression was used to explore the associations of PAE with motor and language development.
PAE was significantly associated with decreased gross motor (OR = 0.16, 95%CI 0.06-0.44, p = 0.001) or fine motor (OR = 0.16, 95%CI 0.06-0.46, p = 0.001) functioning after adjusting for maternal sociodemographic and psychosocial factors at 6 months of age only. No significant effects were found in either receptive or expressive communication and cognitive outcomes at either time point.
PAE has potentially important consequences for motor development in the first 2 years of life, a period during which the most rapid growth and maturation occurs. These findings highlight the importance of identifying high-risk families in order to provide preventive interventions, particularly in antenatal clinics and early intervention services.
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