Our thanks to our colleagues at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research who supported this research. This research was funded by the Health Promotion Foundation of Western Australia (Healthway#10563), NHMRC Program Grants 003209 and 353514. JK is partially funded by a grant to the NPEU and by a National Public Health Career Scientist Award from the Department of Health and NHS R&D (PHSC 022) and CB by NHMRC Fellowships 172303 and 353628.
Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy in Nonindigenous West Australian Women
Article first published online: 10 JAN 2007
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 31, Issue 2, pages 276–284, February 2007
How to Cite
Colvin, L., Payne, J., Parsons, D., Kurinczuk, J. J. and Bower, C. (2007), Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy in Nonindigenous West Australian Women. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 31: 276–284. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2006.00303.x
- Issue published online: 10 JAN 2007
- Article first published online: 10 JAN 2007
- Received for publication March 16, 2006; accepted September 29 2006.
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder;
- Cross-Sectional Study
Background: High alcohol intake in pregnancy has been linked to abnormal fetal development. There are limited published data in Australia on standard drinks of alcohol consumed on a typical occasion during the periconceptional period or pregnancy.
Methods: During 1995 to 1997, a 10% random sample of all nonindigenous women giving birth in Western Australia was surveyed 12 weeks after delivery (N=4,839). Women were asked questions about alcohol consumption in each of the 4 time periods: the 3 months before pregnancy and each trimester of pregnancy. Questions were framed to measure volume, frequency, and type of alcoholic beverage.
Results: 46.7% of the women had not planned their pregnancy. Most women (79.8%) reported drinking alcohol in the 3 months before pregnancy, with 58.7% drinking alcohol in at least 1 trimester of pregnancy. The proportion of women consuming 1 to 2 drinks on a typical occasion did not change much during pregnancy, but the number of occasions declined. Although the proportion of women consuming more than 2 standard drinks on a typical occasion declined after the first trimester, 19.0% of women consumed this amount in at least 1 trimester of pregnancy and 4.3% of women consumed 5 or more standard drinks on a typical occasion in at least 1 trimester of pregnancy. In the first trimester of pregnancy, 14.8% of women drank outside the current Australian guideline for alcohol consumption in pregnancy, decreasing to 10% in the second and third trimesters.
Conclusions: Women generally reduced their average alcohol consumption and the number of standard drinks on a typical occasion as their pregnancy progressed, although 10 to 14% were drinking outside current guidelines for pregnancy. It is important that all women of child-bearing age are aware, well before they consider pregnancy, of the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy so they can make informed decisions about their alcohol consumption in pregnancy.