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Maternal psycho-social risk factors associated with maternal alcohol consumption and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: a systematic review



Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a preventable range of neurocognitive disorders associated with the biological mother’s consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. However, on average, 45% of Australian women continue to consume alcohol during pregnancy resulting in a high rate of alcohol-exposed pregnancies and risk of FASD. This level of exposure is higher than the estimated global average of alcohol-exposed pregnancies (9.8%). This systematic literature review aims to identify demographic, health and psycho-social variables associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy which may lead to FASD.


Using PRISMA principles, this systematic literature review reports on psycho-social factors which increase the risk of alcohol consumption during pregnancy thereby increasing the risk of FASD.


Fourteen studies were accepted into this review. Studies were conducted across several countries and included a total of 386,067 cases. Seven studies were case-controlled and seven were cross-sectional design. Multiple studies identified the significance of prior mental illness, anxiety, depression, exposure to abuse and/or domestic violence and alcohol consumption behaviours of partners and family members as strong predictors of risky alcohol consumption during pregnancy and therefore associated risk of FASD.


Clinical services may be able to use the evidence-based findings from this review to improve assessment and treatment services for vulnerable women to reduce alcohol-exposed pregnancies.

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NW: project conceptualisation, designed data collection methods, data collection and management, data analysis, manuscript writing including interpretation of the results, provided critical input of manuscript content. HC: project conceptualisation, designed data collection methods, data analysis, provided critical input of manuscript content. NM: project conceptualisation, designed data collection methods, data analysis, manuscript writing including interpretation of the results, provided critical input of manuscript content.

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Correspondence to Nyanda McBride.

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Ward, N., Correia, H. & McBride, N. Maternal psycho-social risk factors associated with maternal alcohol consumption and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: a systematic review. Arch Gynecol Obstet (2021).

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  • Alcohol
  • Pregnancy
  • FASD
  • Psycho-social