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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevalence, predictors and perinatal outcomes of peri-conceptional alcohol exposure - retrospective cohort study in an urban obstetric population in Ireland

Aoife Mullally1, Brian J Cleary12, Joe Barry3, Tom P Fahey4 and Deirdre J Murphy1*

Author affiliations

1 Academic Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital & Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 8, Republic of Ireland

2 School of Pharmacy, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

3 Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Trinity College Dublin, Republic of Ireland

4 HRB Centre for Primary Care Research, Department of Family Medicine and General Practice, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

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Citation and License

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2011, 11:27  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-27

Published: 11 April 2011

Abstract

Background

Evidence-based advice on alcohol consumption is required for pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy. Our aim was to investigate the prevalence, predictors and perinatal outcomes associated with peri-conceptional alcohol consumption.

Methods

A cohort study of 61,241 women who booked for antenatal care and delivered in a large urban maternity hospital between 2000 and 2007. Self-reported alcohol consumption at the booking visit was categorised as low (0-5 units per week), moderate (6-20 units per week) and high (>20 units per week).

Results

Of the 81% of women who reported alcohol consumption during the peri-conceptional period, 71% reported low intake, 9.9% moderate intake and 0.2% high intake. Factors associated with moderate alcohol consumption included being in employment OR 4.47 (95% CI 4.17 to 4.80), Irish nationality OR 16.5 (95% CI 14.9 to 18.3), private health care OR 5.83 (95% CI 5.38 to 6.31) and smoking OR 1.86 (95% CI 1.73 to 2.01). Factors associated with high consumption included maternal age less than 25 years OR 2.70 (95% CI 1.86 to 3.91) and illicit drug use OR 6.46 (95% CI 3.32 to 12.60). High consumption was associated with very preterm birth (<32 weeks gestation) even after controlling for socio-demographic factors, adjusted OR 3.15 (95% CI 1.26-7.88). Only three cases of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome were recorded (0.05 per 1000 total births), one each in the low, moderate and high consumption groups.

Conclusions

Public Health campaigns need to emphasise the importance of peri-conceptional health and pre-pregnancy planning. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is likely to be under-reported despite the high prevalence of alcohol consumption in this population.