Maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy and child's cognitive performance at 6-8 years of age in rural Burkina Faso: An observational study
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Background: In Burkina Faso, it is not uncommon for mothers to drink alcohol, even during pregnancy. We aimed to study the association between maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the child’s cognitive performance using the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children, 2nd edition (KABC-II) and the Children’s Category Test Level 1 (CCT-1) in rural Burkina Faso.
Methods: We conducted a follow-up study of a community cluster-randomised Exclusive breastfeeding trial, and re-enrolled the children in rural Burkina Faso. A total of 518 children (268 boys and 250 girls) aged 6–8 years were assessed using the KABC-II and the CCT-1. We examined the effect size difference using Cohen’s d and conducted a linear regression analysis to examine the association.
Results: Self-reported alcohol consumption during pregnancy was 18.5% (96/518). Children whose mothers reported alcohol consumption during pregnancy performed significantly poorly for memory and spatial abilities tests from small effect size difference for ‘Atlantis’ (0.27) and ‘Triangle’ (0.29) to moderate effect size difference for ‘Number recall’ (0.72) compared to children whose mothers did not consume alcohol during pregnancy; the exposed children scored significantly higher errors with a small effect size (0.37) at problem solving (CCT-1) test compared to unexposed children. At unstandardized and standardized multivariable analysis, children whose mothers reported alcohol consumption during pregnancy performed significantly poorer for memory-‘Atlantis’ (p = 0.03) and ‘Number recall’ (p = 0.0001), and spatial ability tests-‘Triangle’ (p = 0.03); they scored significantly higher errors at problem solving CCT-1 test (p = 0.002); all the results were adjusted for age, sex, schooling, stunting, father’s education, mother’s employment and the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding. No statistical association was found for visual abilities-‘Conceptual Thinking’, ‘Face recognition’, ‘Story completion’, and reasoning tests-‘Rover’, ‘Block counting’, and ‘Pattern Reasoning’.
Conclusion: Maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy is associated with poorer cognitive performance for memory, spatial ability, and problem solving tests in the offspring in rural Burkina Faso. Futures studies needs to assess in more detail the maternal alcohol consumption patterns in Burkina Faso and possible preventive strategies.