The association of maternal alcohol use and paraprofessional home visiting with children’s health: A randomized controlled trial.

Objective: This study examines the effect of a home visiting intervention on maternal alcohol use, problematic drinking, and the association of home visiting and alcohol use on children’s behavioral, cognitive, and health outcomes at 5 time points over 5 years. Method: We analyzed 5,099 observations of 1,236 mothers and their children from pregnancy to 5 years postbirth, within a longitudinal cluster-randomized trial evaluating the effect of a home visiting intervention on mothers in Cape Town, South Africa. Paraprofessional home visitors coached mothers on coping with multiple risk factors, including a brief, 1-visit intervention on alcohol prevention in pregnancy. We assessed changes in maternal drinking over time in relation to the intervention, and then examined the impact of these drinking patterns on child outcomes over five years. Results: Drinking increased over the 5 years postbirth, but it was significantly lower in the intervention condition. Compared with abstinence, mothers’ problematic drinking was associated with decreased child weight (−0.21 z-units) at all assessments, increased child aggressive behavior (3 to 7 additional symptoms), and decreased child performance on an executive functioning measure (the silly sounds task; odds ratio = .34) at 3 and 5 years. The intervention’s effect was associated with increased child aggression (0.25 to 0.75 of 1 additional symptom), but the intervention appeared to decrease the effect of problem drinking on children’s aggressive acts and executive functioning. Conclusion: These findings support the need for sustained interventions to reduce alcohol use, especially for mothers who exhibit problematic drinking. Maternal drinking influences children’s health and development over time. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)