Almost 1,600 Victorian women took part in AQUA from early in their pregnancy, many of whom drank varying levels of alcohol before they realised they were pregnant. Participants provided detailed information at three stages of pregnancy on demographics, obstetric history and pregnancy complication, diet, use of folate, health and lifestyle, and family/personal drinking history.

Samples from placenta, cord blood and cheek brush swabs were collected to test for genetic and other markers thought to be important indicators of an alcohol effect. Over 500 babies had a 3D photo taken of their face at 12 months looking for potential early subtle signs of alcohol effects. Then, at two years of age, mothers again brought their children to the Royal Children's Hospital for a comprehensive developmental assessment, done by a trained psychologist. At both time points, all AQUA mothers also reported on their baby's development and aspects of their family environment.

Our findings