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Research Summary

Alcohol Use Among Low-Income Pregnant Latinas

Some research suggests that the prevalence of heavy drinking among Latinas of childbearing age may be increasing. This study examined the prevalence of and risk factors for alcohol consumption during pregnancy among 100 low-income pregnant Latinas.

  • Three months before recognizing they were pregnant, 43% of subjects had consumed some alcohol, 20% had consumed >=4 drinks on an occasion at least once (bingeing), and 5% had consumed >=7 drinks per week.
  • After realizing they were pregnant, 13% continued drinking alcohol.
  • A planned pregnancy did not affect the likelihood or amount of alcohol use.
  • In multivariable analyses, speaking English and acculturation were significant predictors of any alcohol use in the 3 months before subjects recognized they were pregnant. Lower parity and having ever smoked were significant predictors of bingeing.
  • Knowledge about fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and/or awareness of messages warning about alcohol use during pregnancy were associated with increased (not decreased) odds of any alcohol use or bingeing in the 3 months before pregnancy recognition.

Comments:

The prevalence of alcohol use among pregnant Latinas—both before they recognized their pregnancies and after—is substantial. Alcohol interventions for low-income Latinas who may become pregnant are needed. As suggested by this study, providing information about FAS may be insufficient (though the increased odds of drinking among women with greater alcohol awareness may have been due to better recall of warnings by heavier drinkers). Factors that reinforce alcohol consumption in early pregnancy should be identified and addressed.

Joseph Conigliaro, MD, MPH

Reference:

Chambers CD, Hughes S, Meltzer SB, et al. Alcohol consumption among low-income pregnant Latinas. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2005(11);29:2022–2028.


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