Attitudes and behaviour predict women's intention to drink alcohol during pregnancy: The challenge for health professionals

Elizabeth Peadon, University of Sydney
Janet Payne, University of Western Australia
Nadine Henley, Edith Cowan University
Heather D'Antoine, University of Western Australia
Anne Bartu, Curtin University
Colleen O'Leary, University of Western Australia
Carol Bower, University of Western Australia
Elizabeth Elliott, University of Sydney

This article was originally published as: Peadon, E., Payne, J., Henley, N. R., D'Antoine, H., Bartu, A., O'Leary, C., Bower, C., & Elliott, E. (2011). Attitudes and behaviour predict women's intention to drink alcohol during pregnancy: The challenge for health professionals. BMC Public Health, 11(2011), article number 584. Original article available here

Abstract

Background: To explore women’s alcohol consumption in pregnancy, and potential predictors of alcohol consumption in pregnancy including: demographic characteristics; and women’s knowledge and attitudes regarding alcohol consumption in pregnancy and its effects on the fetus. Methods: We conducted a national cross-sectional survey via computer assisted telephone interview of 1103 Australian women aged 18 to 45 years. Participants were randomly selected from the Electronic White Pages. Pregnant women were not eligible to participate. Quotas were set for age groups and a minimum of 100 participants per state to ensure a national sample reflecting the population. The questionnaire was based on a Health Canada survey with additional questions constructed by the investigators. Descriptive statistics were calculated and logistic regression analyses were used to assess associations of alcohol consumption in pregnancy with participants’ characteristics, knowledge and attitudes. Results: The majority of women (89.4%) had consumed alcohol in the last 12 months. During their last pregnancy (n = 700), 34.1% drank alcohol. When asked what they would do if planning a pregnancy (n = 1103), 31.6% said they would consume alcohol and 4.8% would smoke. Intention to consume alcohol in a future pregnancy was associated with: alcohol use in the last pregnancy (adjusted OR (aOR) 43.9; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 27.0 to 71.4); neutral or positive attitudes towards alcohol use in pregnancy (aOR 5.1; 95% CI 3.6 to 7.1); intention to smoke in a future pregnancy (aOR 4.7; 95% CI 2.5 to 9.0); and more frequent and higher current alcohol consumption. Conclusions: Women’s past pregnancy and current drinking behaviour, and attitudes to alcohol use in pregnancy were the strongest predictors of alcohol consumption in pregnancy. Targeted interventions for women at higher risk of alcohol consumption in pregnancy are needed to change women’s risk perception and behaviour.