Maternal alcohol use disorder and child school attendance outcomes for non-Indigenous and Indigenous children in Western Australia: a population cohort record linkage study
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Objectives: Examine the relationship between maternal alcohol use disorder and child school attendance outcomes for non-Indigenous and Indigenous children in Western Australia. Design: Population cohort study. Setting: Routinely collected linked administrative health, education and child protection data. Participants: Those in-scope for the study were women with a birth recorded on the Western Australian Midwives Notification System (1989–2007). Women who had an alcohol-related diagnosis (International Classification of Diseases Revisions 9/10) recorded on the Hospital Morbidity, Mental Health Inpatients and Outpatients, and Drug and Alcohol Office data sets formed the exposed group. The comparison cohort was frequency-matched to the exposed cohort based on maternal age within Indigenous status and child’s year of birth. Primary outcome measure: Child’s school attendance was obtained from the Department of Education (2008–2012). Poor attendance was defined as <80% attendance for non-Indigenous children and <60% attendance for Indigenous children. Results: 11 430 exposed children and 26 850 unexposed children had a linked attendance record. Maternal alcohol use disorder was significantly associated with increased odds of poor attendance (non-Indigenous: OR=1.61, 95% CI 1.50 to 1.74; Indigenous: OR=1.66, 95% CI 1.54 to 1.79). With adjustment for maternal and child factors, there was no significant difference between the timing of alcohol diagnosis relative to pregnancy and attendance outcomes. The population attributable fraction was higher in the Indigenous cohort than the non-Indigenous cohort (6.0% vs 1.3%). Conclusions: Maternal alcohol use disorder was associated with a significantly increased odds of poor school attendance for non-Indigenous and Indigenous children. There was no significant difference between the timing of diagnoses and odds of poor school attendance. This suggests that the effect of maternal alcohol use disorder may not be driven by the neurodevelopmental effects of alcohol exposure in utero, but may be mediated through family or social factors for which we were unable to adjust.
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