Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Exposure by Analysis of Meconium Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters; A National Canadian Study
Our study aimed to estimate the prevalence of heavy fetal alcohol exposure through the analysis of meconium FAEEs as an objective biomarker of fetal exposure. We conducted a study on meconium samples collected nationwide through the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) Study Group. FAEE in meconium was quantified by an established headspace solid-phase microextraction coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (SPME GC-MS). Out of 1315 samples collected in 10 Canadian obstetric units coast to coast between 2008-2011, the estimated prevalence of positive meconium FAEE ranged between 1.16% and 2.40%, translating into at least 1800 new cases of FASD in Canada each year. Positive maternal self- reports of heavy alcohol use were tenfold lower (0.24%). Use of meconium FAEE revealed tenfold more cases of heavy exposure to maternal drinking than did maternal reports. The use of objective measures of maternal alcohol exposure is critical in accurately estimating risks and in monitoring effective prevention of FASD.