Characteristic associated with alcohol drinking in early pregnancy: a cross sectional study Scientific Reports

By contrast, the damaging effects of alcohol to the fetus, the prospect of feeling guilty, and social stigma may stop some women from drinking. There were extensive reports on issues with the child’s physical and emotional needs and safety, such as being physically and emotionally (un)available, having the capacity to look after their children, and the issue of co-sleeping. From a professional perspective, alcohol may raise issues in terms of safeguarding children, such as whether there may be a case of neglect. Drinking was seen as an issue that may lead to emotional and physical unavailability of the mother, negatively affecting the child’s behaviour. Looking after children with a hangover was reported as a factor that may lead to poor parenting.

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  • The prevalence of alcohol use disorders varies widely from country to country, and it is possible that rates of alcohol consumption during pregnancy may reflect a higher number of women with alcohol use disorders.
  • However, in some countries, recommendations on alcohol during pregnancy have changed considerably over the past two decades.
  • Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 40 women in their homes.
  • However, the potentially harmful effects of alcohol on the foetus are most likely caused by ethanol itself, and hence the type of alcohol is unlikely to be of any importance, as suggested in some studies[14].

Women most often identified their sources of anxiety as a perceived societal disapproval of drinking rather than discouragement of drinking by their obstetricians, who were generally depicted as “relaxed” about using alcohol during pregnancy. Women indicated they were careful to heed their obstetricians’ advice regarding food. We found no evidence that women contemplated abortion due to anxiety over alcohol consumption and also no evidence that obstetricians played any role in amplifying anxiety about women’s alcohol consumption [15–17, 19]. The women’s accounts clearly conveyed that they viewed their obstetricians’ advice as authoritative, and were motivated to comply with their recommendations. The accounts show that obstetricians are highly influential in helping women to manage guilt and anxiety in relation to their alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Sample characteristics

Those who continued to drink alcohol during pregnancy described how they conceived “acceptable” levels of drinking. One glass of wine, once or twice a week, was the maximum acceptable level of drinking reported by women. Many women emphasised their reduced consumption by stating they only had “a glass of wine here or there” or by highlighting that they drank fractional glasses of wine on any given occasion. No woman said that she, knowingly, drank more than one glass on any day while pregnant.

  • In contrast, those who used alcohol to cope are strongly influenced by the narrative, widely endorsed in social and the general media, that drinking to cope with the stresses of motherhood is acceptable, common, and funny.
  • Alcohol can cause problems for your baby any time during pregnancy, even before you know that you’re pregnant.
  • As a result, we can view these data as a benchmark for assessing changes in qualitative responses following the change in guidelines.
  • The resources on this website are not intended as health advice to individuals about their drinking.
  • Alcohol screening and brief counseling begin with the administration of a validated screening instrument so the health care provider can objectively determine if a person is drinking excessively.
  • In most countries, pregnant women are offered prenatal visits providing advice on alcohol abstinence, smoking cessation, vitamin supplementation, etc., which take place at the general practitioner or with a midwife around gestational week 6–1025,26.

IQ may be reduced by up to 25 IQ points in children of alcoholics compared to children of women with no or very limited intake, whereas intake of 2-4 drinks/d on average may reduce IQ by 5-7 IQ-points[47,48]. Some women may drink alcohol during pregnancy and have babies who seem healthy. Some women may have very little alcohol during pregnancy and have babies with serious health conditions. The best way to keep your baby safe from problems caused by alcohol during pregnancy is not to drink alcohol when you’re pregnant.

Alcohol Use During Pregnancy

JA contributed to the acquisition of funding, design of the study, facilitated recruitment and contributed to the revision of the manuscript. JL contributed to the conceptualisation of the manuscript, analysis of results and revision of the manuscript. Here, it was evident that the obstetrician played a key role in helping manage women’s anxieties – their emotional state – and in some cases downplayed women’s intuition to be concerned about alcohol. In this report ‘alcohol’ refers to ethanol [CH3-CH2OH], present in all alcoholic beverages (Table 1).

They should also address a wider audience and foster a more supportive socio-structural environment. Despite Australian guidelines advising abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy, a relatively high number of Australian women continue to drink alcohol while pregnant. While some call for greater advocacy of the need for abstinence, others have expressed concern that is it safe to drink alcohol while pregnant abstinence messages may be harmful to pregnant women and their unborn babies due to the anxiety they could provoke. We present findings on women’s deliberations over drinking alcohol during pregnancy, particularly their emotional dimensions, to inform debates about public health messages and practitioner-patient discussions regarding alcohol use during pregnancy.

Alcohol intake by pregnant women in Belgium: a prospective study

This precautionary principle has become the basis of guidelines around the globe. Even countries where wine is woven into the culture, such as France, advise women that it is safest not to drink alcohol at all during pregnancy. A new analysis, published this week in BMJ Open, aimed to answer this question. Researchers collected all the available data they could find from prior studies that had assessed the risks of drinking while pregnant.

  • There are inconsistent data about the effect of social alcohol consumption on many pregnancy outcomes such as spontaneous miscarriage or preterm delivery rates.
  • “Providers need to screen and intervene when we have at-risk or high risk patients and refer them to treatment,” she added.
  • A total score of greater than or equal to two points is considered positive and correctly identifies approximately 70% of heavy drinkers during pregnancy.
  • Our interest with this paper is in making inferences at a cultural level, relevant to understanding how ideas and values circulate in society and are consumed by individuals.
  • This follows the advice of most health organizations focused on pregnancy, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  • The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, any amount of drinking during pregnancy is considered at-risk alcohol use. Surgeon General advises that pregnant women should not drink alcohol during pregnancy.10 Excessive alcohol consumption is a risk factor for miscarriage due to damage to the developing cells of the baby. At the same time it is evident from the few relevant studies that many health professionals do not believe that pregnant women must totally abstain from alcohol[80-83]. Also, pregnant women in Australia and Denmark did not seem to change their drinking habits, even when less restrictive recommendations were issued[97,104]. Hence, it seems that the mere existence of an official guideline or recommendation concerning alcohol in pregnancy has not been enough to standardize the information provided to pregnant women and to modify their behaviour in relation to alcohol. We found that some women expressed anxiety about drinking alcohol during pregnancy but this anxiety was not widespread.

Of the 24% of women who consumed any alcohol, 13.9% consumed alcohol during 1 of the 3 weeks. Even though total abstinence of alcohol for pregnant and lactating women is recommended, at least 25% of pregnant women still consumes alcohol. Health care providers have to be aware of the underreporting of alcohol use by pregnant women, especially if they drink heavily since they fear of being stigmatised. Even though total abstinence of alcohol for pregnant and lactating women is recommended, consumption prevalences ranging from 12% up to 30% have been reported. No Belgian data on alcohol consumption in pregnant women were recently published. You may be used to having a glass of wine with dinner or at the end of a busy day.

the recommendation for alcohol consumption during pregnancy is

To reduce the risk of miscarriage, women who are trying to conceive should consider avoiding alcohol. For those unwilling to do that or those with an unplanned pregnancy, stopping drinking as soon as a pregnancy test is positive may improve the likelihood of successful outcomes. Two studies from 2021 support the idea that alcohol consumption during pregnancy isn’t a good idea – both for the overall outcome of the pregnancy and for fetal neurodevelopment. Women make decisions about risks and outcomes for our health and the health of our children all the time.

If you don’t drink alcohol during pregnancy, your baby can’t have FASDs or any other health problems caused by alcohol. If you’re pregnant or even thinking about getting pregnant, don’t drink alcohol. A report from Canada describes similar results, but a smaller percentage (6.7%) of women consuming alcohol in pregnancy. However, they also observed an increased rate of cannabis and tobacco use, as well as increased depressive symptoms and financial difficulties in patients who consumed cannabis or tobacco during pregnancy. Unfortunately, drinking any alcohol while you’re pregnant is not considered safe.