Children of mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy may be at an increased risk of developing depression in late adolescence, according to new University of Bristol research. The study, which used data from 14,541 pregnant mothers in the 1990s, is published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
While previous research has suggested that babies exposed to alcohol in the womb have a higher risk of a variety of adverse outcomes, few studies have investigated the association with mental health problems in late adolescence.
The study found that children whose mothers consumed alcohol at 18 weeks pregnant may have up to a 17 percent higher risk of depression at age 18 compared to those mothers who did not drink alcohol. However, there was little evidence of any association between partner drinking and offspring depression in adolescence. This suggests that the association seen with maternal drinking may be causal, rather than due to confounding by other factors (which might be expected to be similar between mothers and their partners).