The primary purpose of this report was to examine the rate of, and develop predictors for, alcohol consumption during pregnancy. To do this, data from the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey were analysed.
Of the respondents, 819 women had been pregnant in the 12 months prior to completing the survey. Within this sample, 47.3 per cent consumed alcohol while pregnant, before knowledge of their pregnancy and 19.5 per cent consumed alcohol while pregnant, after knowledge of their pregnancy. No information was collected on how much alcohol was being consumed.
While no steady relationship between socioeconomic factors and drinking before knowledge of pregnancy was found, women who were older and with a higher household income were more likely to continue to drink after learning of their pregnancy. Age is a particularly important predictor of drinking after awareness of pregnancy. Ninety per cent of drinkers under 25 years stopped drinking once they learned of their pregnancy, while only half of those already drinking who were aged 36 years or older did the same.
It is important to keep in mind when interpreting these results that the data does not indicate how much women were drinking during pregnancy. Therefore more research is needed on how much women are drinking during pregnancy and the outcomes of different levels of consumption.
However, it is evident that a greater focus is needed on raising awareness of the harms associated with alcohol use during pregnancy for women who are of child-bearing age.
- Dr Sarah Callinan, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research
- Professor Robin Room, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research