Published 2006 .
Written in EnglishRead online
Challenges in identifying children exposed prenatally to ethanol necessitate the development of a biomarker to screen for neonates at risk for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Meconium fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE), products of non-oxidative ethanol metabolism, have been established as a novel biomarker of fetal ethanol exposure. This study is the first application of this test to a regional neonatal population in Canada. Six-hundred eighty-two anonymously collected meconium samples were analyzed by GC-FID and GC-MS. Ethyl myristate, ethyl palmitate, ethyl palmitoleate, ethyl stearate, ethyl oleate, ethyl linolate, ethyl linolenate, and ethyl arachidonate were measured. GC-FID screening produced a sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 97% with positive and negative predictive values of 45.9% and 100%, respectively, for successful GC-MS confirmation. FAEE analysis detected 5-fold more ethanol-exposed pregnancies than standard post-partum screening in this population, demonstrating a 2.5% prevalence of fetal ethanol exposure, consistent with CDC estimates of "frequent" prenatal drinking.
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