Objectives: To examine alcohol-use disorders in pregnant women and the extent of under-reporting. Design Population-based cohort study.
Setting: Western Australia.
Population: Women with a birth recorded on the Western Australian Midwives Notification System (1985-2006).
Methods: Mothers with an International Classification of Diseases 9/10 alcohol-related diagnosis, indicating heavy alcohol consumption, recorded on population-based health datasets (non-Aboriginal n = 5839; Aboriginal n = 2583) were identified through the Western Australian data-linkage system. This 'exposed' cohort was frequency matched (on maternal age, year of birth of offspring, Aboriginal status) with comparison mothers without an alcohol-related diagnosis (non-Aboriginal n = 33 979; Aboriginal n = 8005).
Main outcome measures: Trends in maternal alcohol diagnoses in relation to pregnancy for non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal women. The proportion of children diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) who had a mother with an alcohol diagnosis recorded during pregnancy.
Results: The proportion of Aboriginal mothers in Western Australia with an alcohol diagnosis (23.1%) is ten times greater than for non-Aboriginal mothers (2.3%). There has been a six-fold increase in the percentage of non-Aboriginal births with a maternal alcohol diagnosis recorded during pregnancy and a 100-fold increase for Aboriginal births. Around 70% of the mothers of children diagnosed with FAS did not have an alcohol diagnosis recorded during pregnancy and 18% of the mothers had no record of an alcohol diagnosis.
Conclusions: Maternal alcohol exposure during pregnancy is significantly under-ascertained. Given the severe risks to the fetus from heavy prenatal alcohol exposure, assessment and recording of alcohol use should be routinely undertaken in maternity and other health settings.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology|
|Publication status||Published - May 2013|