Present data on the harmful fetal effects of maternal alcohol use have seriously questioned the safety of ethanol treatment, as once prescribed for arresting premature uterine contractions. Therefore, we analyzed retrospectively the fate of infants whose mothers took ethanol for threatened first- or second-trimester abortion in 1968–1973. One hundred thirty-six patients were given an average of 38 g of ethanol (10–120 g) per day for two to 34 days, whereas 103 comparable patients received no ethanol treatment. The immediate and long-term effects on each woman's offspring were followed from birth to age 14. No infant had typical fetal alcohol effects. Fetal growth and the rates of fetal/neonatal deaths and anomalies were similar in both groups. Furthermore, there was no difference in postnatal growth and development. Thus, ethanol treatment as once prescribed for threatened abortion evidently did not cause fetal damage.
© 1988 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists