In this study, researchers from South Africa and the United States assessed the sensitivity and specificity of fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs) extracted from meconium for identifying alcohol-using pregnant women.
The team evaluated 27 meconium samples from infants who were enrolled in a longitudinal neurobehavioral study.
Maternal alcohol use was reported prospectively during pregnancy.
|- Sensitivity = 84%|
- Specificity = 83%
|Journal of Pediatrics|
The team isolated FAEEs from the meconium samples. These were quantitated using gas chromatography-tandem mass spectroscopy (GC/MS/MS).
The research team found that ethyl oleate was strongly correlated with self-reported maternal drinking. It was most strongly related to drinking in the second and third trimesters.
The team determined that at a threshold of 1.5 average ounces of absolute alcohol ingested per drinking day, the area under the receiving operator characteristic curve was 0.92.
Using a cut-off value of 32 ng/g, the researchers calculated a sensitivity of 84% and specificity of 83%.
Dr Cynthia Bearer's team concluded, "Ethyl oleate concentration in meconium assayed by GC/MS/MS provides a highly sensitive and specific indicator of maternal alcohol use during pregnancy".