Introduction: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a leading cause of neurodevelopmental disabilities worldwide and therefore a major public health concern. Despite intensive efforts in preventing prenatal alcohol exposure, one in ten Canadian women still consumes alcohol during pregnancy. In this study, we aim to explore the characteristics of pregnant women consuming alcohol and determine profiles of alcohol use before and during pregnancy. To obtain enough statistical power to address these questions, it is essential to harmonize and co-analyse data collected across multiple mother and child cohorts.
Methods: Five cohorts were selected to participate in this harmonization project: the 3D Study - Design, Develop, Discover (Quebec), the All Our Babies and All Our Families study (Alberta), the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition study (Alberta), the Family Atherosclerosis Monitoring in Early Life study (Ontario) and the Ontario Birth Study (Ontario). Harmonization of data collected by these cohorts is currently ongoing based on the Maelstrom guidelines for retrospective harmonization. The process includes: 1) assembling information on data collected; 2) defining variables to be harmonized and evaluating the harmonization potential; 3) processing data under a common format; 4) evaluating the quality of the harmonized dataset; and 5) preserving the final dataset to support analysis.
Results: A total of 10,263 mothers are included in the analysis. To date, forty-nine variables have been harmonized. These include information on heavy/binge drinking, frequency and quantity of alcohol consumed at multiple time points as well as potential predictors of alcohol consumption during pregnancy such as the consumption prior to pregnancy, maternal age, education, household income, occupation, ethnicity, smoking, parity and consumption of the mother’s partner.
Conclusion: To our knowledge, this will be the largest study of the correlates of alcohol use before and during pregnancy in Canadian women. The resource will provide invaluable opportunities to better inform prevention strategies.
Isabel Fortier– Associate professor, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre
Kelly Harding– Research associate, Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network
Rose Schmidt– Research manager, Centre of Excellence for Women's Health
Nancy Poole– Director, Centre of Excellence for Women's Health
Alan Bocking– Professor, University of Toronto