Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1304–1311 | Cite as

Associations Between Depressive and Anxious Symptoms and Prenatal Alcohol Use

  • Julie A. Leis
  • Jon Heron
  • Elizabeth A. Stuart
  • Tamar Mendelson


Symptoms of depression and anxiety are prevalent during pregnancy and may influence women’s health behaviors. The impact of women’s mental health on alcohol use may be particularly important to consider as prenatal alcohol use is common and may have serious negative consequences for the developing fetus. The objectives of this study were to investigate the relationships between elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety and subsequent likelihood of any alcohol use and binge drinking during pregnancy. The sample consisted of 12,824 women from a prospective, population-based study from the United Kingdom, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Participants completed questionnaires assessing alcohol use and depressive and anxious symptoms during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. A series of multivariable regression models was fit using multiply imputed data. Thirty four percent of women reported having at least one alcoholic drink at 32 weeks’ gestation and 17% reported binge drinking. We found a weak association between elevated symptoms of anxiety and any alcohol use but not between elevated symptoms of depression and any alcohol use. Modest associations were found between both elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety at 18 weeks’ gestation and binge drinking at 32 weeks’ gestation. Elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety may increase risk for binge drinking during pregnancy. Further research into the impact of symptoms of depression and anxiety on binge drinking during pregnancy is needed as this could represent an opportunity for public health intervention.


Alcohol use Binge drinking Anxiety Depression ALSPAC 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie A. Leis
    • 1
  • Jon Heron
    • 2
  • Elizabeth A. Stuart
    • 3
  • Tamar Mendelson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsJohns Hopkins University, School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.School of Social and Community Medicine, University of BristolBristolUK
  3. 3.Department of Mental HealthJohns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA

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