Maternal adverse childhood experiences are associated with binge drinking during pregnancy in a dose-dependent pattern: Findings from the All Our Families cohort

Cheryl L.Currie, James L.Sanders, Lisa-MarieSwanepoel, Colleen M.Davies



Binge drinking (BD) is a serious risk factor for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and associated with more severe forms of the disorder. Thus, special attention to specific risk factors for BD adjacent to and during pregnancy is warranted.


(1) To examine the role that maternal adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) may play in BD in the 12 months before pregnancy and during pregnancy in a sample of women with moderate to high socioeconomic status; and (2) to examine the sociodemographic correlates of BD before and during pregnancy within this sample.

Participants and setting

This secondary analysis (N = 1663) was derived from the All Our Families prospective cohort study collected in Alberta, Canada between 2008-2011.


Data were collected using three mailed surveys completed by women during and after pregnancy. An established scale examined maternal ACEs before 18 years. Adjusted logistic regression models tested associations between ACE score and BD before and during pregnancy.


Approximately 5 in 10 (48.3 %) and 1 in 10 (10.0 %) women reported ≥1 BD episode before and during pregnancy; respectively. In adjusted models, a woman’s ACE score was associated with BD pre-pregnancy in a weak, nonmonotonic fashion; and during pregnancy in a moderate, dose-response fashion. Overall, ACEs resulted in two to three-fold increase in the odds of BD during pregnancy.


Maternal ACEs were common in this middle to upper-middle income, well-educated sample and impacted the next generation through BD in pregnancy. These findings combine with others to speak to the public health significance of maternal ACEs on alcohol-related behaviour among expectant mothers across the socioeconomic spectrum, and the need for targeted evidence-based interventions for this population.

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