A large proportion of Australian women consume alcohol during pregnancy. It is important to identify predictors of such use; however no previous study has examined a comprehensive set of predictors using a population-based sample.

Data was obtained from women from the 1973-78 cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, who indicated they were pregnant at survey two, three, four or five (from 2000-2009). Thirty-six variables were investigated as potential predictors of alcohol use during pregnancy, including sociodemographic factors, reproductive health, mental and physical health, health behaviours, alcohol guidelines and healthcare factors.

  • Most (82%) women continued to drink alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Women were more likely to drink alcohol during pregnancy if they had consumed alcohol on a weekly basis before pregnancy, binge drank before pregnancy, or if they were pregnant while alcohol guidelines recommended low alcohol versus abstinence.
  • Drinking during pregnancy was less likely if women had a Health Care Card or if they had ever had fertility problems.

Most Australian women who drank alcohol continued to do so during pregnancy. To ensure that women can make informed decisions about alcohol use during pregnancy, healthcare professionals should be providing all women with information about the potential harms of alcohol use and the reasons why abstinence is the safest option.

Citation: Anderson AE, Hure AJ, Powers JR, Kay-Lambkin FJ, Loxton DJ (2013). Predictors of antenatal alcohol use among Australian women: A prospective cohort study. BJOG, 120:1366-1374.

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