Moderate Alcohol Consumption as a Mediator of Mother's Behaviour towards Her Child

Article excerpt

SUMMARY

Aim: The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of moderate drinking on mother's behaviour towards her child.

Method: The European Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ELSPAC) survey sample consisted of 3,569 Czech women, who were interviewed when their children were 18 months old. There were three areas related to mother child relationship investigated: hygiene, activities with the child, and the mother's emotional relationship with the child. Besides alcohol consumption, we also evaluated the mother's neuroticisms.

Results: Our results suggest that the behaviour of moderate drinking mothers differs from the behaviour of abstaining mothers. The abstinents express more emotions for the child, they handle better the demands of maternity and pay more attention to needs for child's educative activities. Significant differences were not noticed in the frequency of physical activities with the child (cuddling, physical playing, walks).

Conclusion: Our data supports the assumption that moderate drinking of a mother is disadvantageous for the child as compared to abstinence. The abstinents display a higher level of concern about the child.

Key words: moderate drinking, alcohol consumption, women, care about child, emotions, maternity

INTRODUCTION

Overuse and addiction to alcohol is a long-term observed psychological, social and health issue. Even though the majority of individual, family and social tragedies caused by alcohol started by a more or less regular consumption of a small amount of alcohol, moderate drinking is not only tolerated but also promoted by society. This does not concern only advertisements for alcohol and companies selling alcohol, but also relatively frequent uncritical promotion of scientific studies dealing with the effect of moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks on the human organism, with allegedly beneficial effect of it, e.g. lowering the risk of ischemic stroke, coronary heart disease and dementia in the later phase of life (1-6). Comprehensive view of this matter is provided by Baum-Baicker (7), who describes five areas of benefits described by people consuming a small amount of alcohol: 1) lower stress, 2) better mood, 3) cognitive performance, 4) lower clinical symptoms - depression in particular, 5) better functioning in older age. Peele and Brodsky (8) state that moderate drinking in comparison with heavy drinkers is connected with psychological, physiological and social feelings of well-being, high spirit, lower stress under certain circumstances, increased sociability and social participation. Results of a prospective Czech study indicate especially the improvement of ability to cope with interactive stressful life events as a reason for consumption of alcohol in the group of studied women (9). However, even moderate alcohol consumption, especially among young women, can easily escalate into heavy drinking and alcohol dependence. The tolerated daily amount of alcohol, of course, differs with every individual. Results of a study Meyerhoff et al. (10) imply that damage of brain tissues and cognitive functions does not occur with usually tolerated alcohol consumption, i.e. less than two drinks a day for a healthy man and one drink for a healthy woman.

Studies dealing with possible influence of the alcohol consumption on fetus in the prenatal period show the explicit hazard of excessive alcohol consumption with respect to fetus size and its abnormalities (11), depressive symptoms (12) or ill neurological effects (13). However, only a small or no effect is found with moderate drinking (14). Results of research dealing with the effect of a mother's moderate drinking on cognitive development, with regards to the child's age in particular, are ambiguous (15). In child psychology, mother and child attachment, influenced by a number of cognitive and emotional factors, is observed in connection with alcohol consumption of the mother. …