Alcohol consumption in pregnancy: results from the general practice setting
- 380 Downloads
There is no established safe level of alcohol consumption in pregnancy. Studies from Ireland have consistently shown lower abstention and higher binge drinking rates in pregnancy than other countries, indicating a high potential for foetal alcohol-related disorders. There has been little research on alcohol in pregnancy in primary care.
To determine the prevalence of alcohol consumption amongst pregnant women attending their GP for antenatal care, and to compare this to use in the year prior to conception.
Prospective cross-sectional study was carried out in fifteen teaching practices in the greater Dublin area. Women were recruited at their antenatal visits. Data were gathered by self-completed questionnaire in the practice, or researcher-administered telephone questionnaire. The questionnaire was based on the AUDIT, a WHO-validated data collection instrument designed for use in primary care.
Two hundred and forty valid questionnaires were returned (80 % recruitment rate). Alcohol intake and binge drinking levels were much lower during pregnancy compared to the year prior to pregnancy (p < 0.001). There was a marked reduction in the prevalence of alcohol use in pregnancy compared to previous research. Over 97 % drink no more than once a week, including almost two-thirds of women who abstain totally from alcohol in pregnancy. Non-pregnant Irish women drink alcohol more frequently, and with higher rates of binge drinking, than women of other nationalities.
Primary care is a suitable setting to research alcohol use in pregnancy. Alcohol use in pregnancy in Ireland has decreased markedly compared to previous research from this jurisdiction.
KeywordsAlcohol drinking Family practice General practice Pregnancy Prevalence Primary care
Many thanks to the participating GP practices and their patients. Research funded by the Health Service Executive.
Conflict of interest
Ethical approval from Irish College of General Practitioners.
- 1.George SC (ed) (2007) Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: a guide for healthcare professionals, BMA, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 13.Barry S et al (2005) The Coombe Women’s Hospital study of alcohol, smoking and illicit drug use, 1987–2005. Coombe Women’s Hospital, Dublin, IrelandGoogle Scholar
- 17.Project CHOICES Research Group (2002) Alcohol-exposed pregnancy: characteristics associated with risk. Am J Prev Med 23(3):166–173 Google Scholar
- 18.ESRI (2010) Perinatal statistics report 2008. Health Research and Information Division, Economic and Social Research Institute, DublinGoogle Scholar
- 21.SPSS Inc. (2007) SPSS 16.0 for Windows, 1989–2007Google Scholar
- 22.RDC Team (ed) (2009) R: a language and environment for statistical computing, in R foundation for statistical computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
- 23.Morgan K et al (2009) SLÁN 2007: survey of lifestyle, attitudes and nutrition in Ireland. Alcohol use in Ireland: a profile of drinking patterns and alcohol-related harm from SLÁN 2007, DoHa Children (ed), DublinGoogle Scholar
- 30.Danzon M (ed) (2006) Framework for alcohol policy in the WHO European region. WHO Europe, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
- 31.HSE (2009) Alcohol and pregnancy. Available at: http://www.yourdrinking.ie/alcohol-and-pregnancy/. Accessed 11 June 2011
- 32.NICE (2008) Antenatal care: routine care for the healthy pregnant woman. Available http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/11947/40110/40110.pdf. Accessed 11 June 2011
- 36.Kelly YJ et al (2010) Light drinking during pregnancy: still no increased risk for socioemotional difficulties or cognitive deficits at 5 years of age? J Epidemiol Community Health 66(1):41–48Google Scholar
- 38.Patra J et al (2011) Dose-response relationship between alcohol consumption before and during pregnancy and the risks of low birthweight, preterm birth and small for gestational age (SGA)-a systematic review and meta-analyses. BJOG 118(12):1411–1421Google Scholar
- 39.Sood B et al (2001) Prenatal alcohol exposure and childhood behavior at age 6 to 7 years: I. Dose-Response Eff Pediatr 108(2):34Google Scholar
- 44.McMillan H et al (2006) Smoking and alcohol in pregnancy. Survey in the immediate post-partum period. Ir Med J 99(9):283Google Scholar
- 45.Brady A (2009) Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Dáil Eireann Debate, vol 683, no 3Google Scholar