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expert reaction to association between avoiding meat in pregnancy and substance misuse by children during adolescence

A new study, published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, examines the association between lower meat consumption by women during pregnancy and increased risk of substance misuse by their children during adolescence.


Dr Irene Petersen, Reader in Epidemiology and Statistics at UCL, said:

“I suppose there might be a real link between diet in pregnancy and the child’s substance misuse in later life, but this study does not show it.  There are so many other factors that determine whether a young adult drinks, smokes or takes drugs, and this is nothing more than an interesting finding which might prompt future research.

“There are also a number of limitations of this study.  For example, there is a real problem with the response rate as only just over half of the 15 year olds attended an invitation to clinic for follow up.  As with many similar studies, this could heavily skew the patterns we see.

“As with most observational studies, we must not confuse an interesting pattern with a reason for people to change their lifestyles – pregnant women don’t need to start eating burgers to avoid having alcoholic teenagers.”


* ‘Meat Consumption During Pregnancy and Substance Misuse Among Adolescent Offspring: Stratification of TCN2 Genetic Variants’ by Joseph R. Hibbeln et al. published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research on Wednesday 4 October 2017.


Declared interests

None declared

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