Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and the Risk of Depression in Offspring: a Meta-Analysis

Xiaoming Zhang, Yanru Liu, Jing Li, Binbin Li, Xingjie Yang, Qi Sun, Jingyi Yan, Zhiren Wang, Huaqing Liu, “Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and the Risk of Depression in Offspring: a Meta-Analysis”, International Journal of Clinical Practice, vol. 2022, Article ID 5458611, 9 pages, 2022.



Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) has been related to poor consequences of mental health in offspring. However, it remains unknown whether maternal alcohol drinking during pregnancy is associated with depression in the offspring. 


A meta-analysis was performed accordingly. Relevant observational studies were identified from Medline, Embase, and Web of Science databases. A fixed-effect or a random-effect model was selected depending on the between-study heterogeneity. 


Eight cohort studies were included. The heterogeneity was not significant (I2 = 14%). A meta-analysis with a fixed-effect model showed that PAE was associated with a higher risk of depression in offspring (odds ratio (OR): 2.28, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.61 to 3.25, ). Subgroup analysis showed that moderate (OR: 1.74, 95% CI: 1.22 to 2.49, , I2 = 0%) or heavy (OR: 2.41, 95% CI: 1.55 to 3.73, , I2 = 0%) maternal alcohol drinking in pregnancy was associated with depression in offspring, but not for those with low maternal alcohol drinking (OR: 1.18, 95% CI: 0.97 to 1.44, , I2 = 0%). Further subgroup analyses according to study design, timing of PAE evaluation, age at depression diagnosis, and quality scores showed consistent results. Univariate metaregression showed a dose-response association between PAE and offspring depression (coefficient: 0.073, 95% CI: 0.019 to 0.127, ). 

Conclusions. Current evidence suggests that PAE may be a risk factor of depression in offspring.

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