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Education, safe drinking practices and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the Kimberley region of Western Australia

Authors

  • Phillip S Kavanagh,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
    • Correspondence: Dr Phillip S Kavanagh, School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia. Fax: +61 8 8302 4377; email: phil.kavanagh@unisa.edu.au

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  • Jennifer S Payne

    1. School of Health and Human Services, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
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  • Conflict of interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Abstract

Aim

There are alarming rates of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in the Kimberley region of Western Australia despite numerous international studies demonstrating the links between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and FASD. The aim of this research was to help determine factors that may be associated with correct knowledge about safe drinking practices during pregnancy, with these factors used to help inform future interventions.

Method

Ninety-nine residents (40 males, 59 females, 39% of which self-identified as Indigenous) from the Kimberley region (Broome and smaller remote communities) completed a survey examining knowledge of currently recommended safe drinking practices during pregnancy and knowledge of the outcomes for children with FASD over a period of approximately 2 months.

Results

The results revealed that education level (i.e. not completing high school through to completing university) is the biggest predictor (β = 0.44, P < 0.01) of knowledge of safe drinking practices during pregnancy, and having heard of FASD (β = 0.67, P < 0.001) was the biggest predictor of knowledge of outcomes for children with FASD. Other variables such as age, sex, Indigenous status and income level were not as important.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that early education regarding the consequences of alcohol consumption for women of childbearing age should be paramount in this or similar communities. Suggestions for targeted interventions are discussed in light of these findings.

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