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BACKGROUND: Alcohol use in South Africa (SA) is increasing. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that SA is the third-largest drinking population in Africa, with the highest rate of fetal alcohol syndrome in the world. Internationally, parental drinking during childhood is a risk factor for poor child mental health, behavioural problems and weaker educational outcomes in middle childhood. However, parental alcohol use in Africa is under-researched, and much of the literature on maternal alcohol consumption is restricted to clinical and pregnancy samples. OBJECTIVES: To investigate alcohol use and hazardous drinking (HD) among mothers/primary caregivers of children aged 7 - 11 years in a rural SA cohort. We explored risk factors for drinking and the association between HD and child behaviour/cognition. METHODS: The primary outcome measure was the WHO Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) using the standardised cut-off for HD (≥8). Secondary measures were the Patient Health Questionnaire Depression Scale (PHQ-9), Patient Health Questionnaire General Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-7), Parenting Stress Index, short form (PSI-36), Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL, parent reported), Kaufman Developmental Assessment Battery (KABC-II) for child cognition, and Neuropsychological Assessment Battery, 2nd edition, subtests (NEPSY-II) for executive function. We compared characteristics of those drinking/not drinking, using χ2 tests, and modelled outcomes on parenting stress, cognitive outcomes and CBCL scores for children using logistic regression analysis. We grouped mothers/caregivers engaged in HD to examine its effect on parent/child outcomes using t-tests to test for significant differences. RESULTS: Of 1 505 women (1 266 mothers and 239 caregivers) with 1 536 children, 12% reported consuming alcohol and 3% reported HD. Higher maternal/caregiver age (31 - 40 years, adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.57 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.4 - 0.9); >41 years, aOR 0.30 (95% CI 0.2 - 0.5)), education (matriculation, aOR 0.49 (95% CI 0.3 - 0.9); post matriculation, aOR 0.30 (95% CI 0.1 - 0.6)), and a stable relationship with the father (aOR 0.6 (95% CI 0.4 - 1.0)) were associated with no alcohol use. Food insecurity increased the odds of alcohol use (aOR 1.52 (95% CI 1.1 - 2.1)), while parental mental health (parenting stress, anxiety) and child mental health problems were associated with approximately double the odds of consuming alcohol in univariate analysis. Children of HD mothers/caregivers had higher mean scores for psychological problems (CBCL total score: no HD (mean 45.0) v. HD (mean 48.9); p=0.029) and lower cognitive scores (KABC Learning Scale: no HD (mean 14.3) v. HD (mean 12.8); p=0.017). CONCLUSIONS: While HD rates were low, maternal/caregiver alcohol use negatively impacted on parenting and children's behavioural/cognitive outcomes. International evidence suggests that integrated approaches engaging parents and families may be more effective for parent-child outcomes than individual psychiatric or medical care for the parent on their own.

Original publication

DOI

10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i7.13120

Type

Journal article

Journal

S Afr Med J

Publication Date

28/06/2019

Volume

109

Pages

526 - 534

Keywords

Adult, Alcohol Drinking, Anxiety, Caregivers, Child, Child Behavior Disorders, Cognition Disorders, Cohort Studies, Female, Food Supply, HIV Infections, Humans, Male, Mental Health, Mothers, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Neuropsychological Tests, Parenting, Rural Population, South Africa, Stress, Psychological, Surveys and Questionnaires