Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 492–500

Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages Among Pregnant Urban Ugandan Women

  • Imelda Namagembe
  • Leila W. Jackson
  • Melissa D. Zullo
  • Scott H. Frank
  • Josaphat K. Byamugisha
  • Ajay K. Sethi


The World Health Organization estimated alcohol consumption in Uganda to be one of the highest in the world. We examined alcohol consumption among Ugandan women prior to and after learning of pregnancy. We developed a screening algorithm using factors that predicted alcohol consumption in this study. In 2006, we surveyed 610 women attending antenatal care at the national referral hospital in Kampala, Uganda about consumption of traditional and commercial alcoholic beverages before and after learning of pregnancy. Predictors of alcohol consumption during pregnancy were examined and a practical screening algorithm was developed for use in antenatal clinics. One hundred eighty women (30%) drank alcohol at least monthly before learning of their pregnancy. Among these women, almost one-third reported usual consumption of at least one beverage type at quantities that equal binging levels for women. Overall, 151 women (25%) consumed alcohol after learning of pregnancy. Commercial beverages, particularly beer, were consumed more often than traditional drinks. A two-stage screening algorithm asking women about their religion, male partner or friends’ drinking, and any lifetime drinking predicted self-reported consumption of alcohol during pregnancy with 97% sensitivity and 89% specificity. Alcohol consumption among pregnant Ugandan women attending antenatal care is high. A feasible screening algorithm can help providers target education and counseling to women who are likely drinking during pregnancy. Given the preference for commercial alcoholic beverages, it is recommended that labels be placed prominently on bottled alcoholic beverages warning of the adverse effects of consuming alcohol during pregnancy.


Alcohol consumption Pregnancy Uganda Antenatal care 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Imelda Namagembe
    • 1
    • 2
  • Leila W. Jackson
    • 1
  • Melissa D. Zullo
    • 1
  • Scott H. Frank
    • 1
  • Josaphat K. Byamugisha
    • 3
  • Ajay K. Sethi
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsCase Western Reserve University School of MedicineClevelandUSA
  2. 2. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of MedicineMulago Hospital and Makerere UniversityKampalaUganda
  3. 3. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of MedicineMulago Hospital and Makerere UniversityKampalaUganda
  4. 4.Department of Population Health SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public HealthMadisonUSA

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