Association of Pregnancy-Specific Alcohol Policies with Infant Morbidities and Maltreatment

Sarah C.M. Roberts, Alex Schulte, Claudia Zaugg, Douglas L. Leslie, Tammy E. Corr, Guodong Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Importance: Research has found associations of pregnancy-specific alcohol policies with increased low birth weight and preterm birth, but associations with other infant outcomes are unknown. Objective: To examine the associations of pregnancy-specific alcohol policies with infant morbidities and maltreatment. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort study used outcome data from Merative MarketScan, a national database of private insurance claims. The study cohort included individuals aged 25 to 50 years who gave birth to a singleton between 2006 and 2019 in the US, had been enrolled 1 year before and 1 year after delivery, and could be matched with an infant. Data were analyzed from August 2021 to April 2023. Exposures: Nine state-level pregnancy-specific alcohol policies obtained from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's Alcohol Policy Information System. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcomes were 1 or more infant injuries associated with maltreatment and infant morbidities associated with maternal alcohol consumption within the first year. Logistic regression, adjusting for individual-level and state-level controls, and fixed effects for state, year, state-specific time trends, and SEs clustered by state were used. Results: A total of 1432979 birthing person-infant pairs were included (mean [SD] age of birthing people, 32.2 [4.2] years); 30157 infants (2.1%) had injuries associated with maltreatment, and 44461 (3.1%) infants had morbidities associated with alcohol use during pregnancy. The policies of Reporting Requirements for Assessment/Treatment (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.28; 95% CI, 1.08-1.52) and Mandatory Warning Signs (aOR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.10-1.27) were associated with increased odds of infant injuries but not morbidities. Priority Treatment for Pregnant Women Only was associated with decreased odds of infant injuries (aOR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.76-0.90) but not infant morbidities. Civil Commitment was associated with increased odds of infant injuries (aOR, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.08-1.48) but decreased odds of infant morbidities (aOR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.53-0.62). Priority Treatment for Pregnant Women and Women With Children was associated with increased odds of both infant injuries (aOR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.00-1.25) and infant morbidities (aOR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.03-1.13). Reporting Requirements for Child Protective Services, Reporting Requirements for Data, Child Abuse/Neglect, and Limits on Criminal Prosecution were not associated with infant injuries or morbidities. Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, most pregnancy-specific alcohol policies were not associated with decreased odds of infant injuries or morbidities. Policy makers should not assume that pregnancy-specific alcohol policies improve infant health..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2327138
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)

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