SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the association between preconception and prenatal alcohol use and abruptio placentae. METHODS: A case-control study of women with the clinical diagnosis of abruptio placentae, 65 cases and 66 controls, at Tygerberg Academic Hospital, Western Cape, South Africa. Women in whom a retroplacental blood clot, covering at least 15% of the placental surface, was found at delivery at 24 weeks' gestation or later were asked to complete a timeline follow-back questionnaire to determine their alcohol intake 12 and 3 months before and during pregnancy. The same questionnaire was administered to a control group of high-risk women who had no antepartum haemorrhage. OUTCOME: Women who drank alcohol 12 months before conception were more than 4 times more likely to develop abruptio placentae than the control group (odds ratio (OR) 4.49, p=0.00009). Women who drank alcohol 3 months prior to conception were 3 times more likely to develop abruptio placentae than the control group (OR 3.06, p=0.003). Drinking alcoholic beverages during pregnancy carried a more than 3 times greater risk of developing abruptio placentae (OR 3.52, p=0.0006). In the study group, women consumed a mean of 13.6, 12.0 and 11.2 standard drinks in a typical week at 12 and 3 months before and during pregnancy, respectively. The study group demonstrated a binge-drinking pattern, with two to four sessions per month. CONCLUSION: An association was found between preconception and prenatal consumption of alcohol and abruptio placentae.