Objective: To estimate the prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy among the general population of Latin America and the Caribbean, by country, in 2012.

Methods: Three steps were taken: a comprehensive, systematic literature search; meta-analyses, assuming a random-effects model for countries with published studies; and regression modelling (data prediction) for countries with either no published studies or too few to obtain an estimate.

Results: Based on 24 existing studies, the pooled prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy among the general population was estimated for Brazil (15.2%; 95% confidence interval [95%CI]: 10.4%-20.8%) and Mexico (1.2%; 95%CI: 0.0%-2.7%). The prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy among the general population was predicted for 31 countries and ranged from 4.8% (95%CI: 4.2%-5.4%) in Cuba to 23.3% (95%CI: 20.1%-26.5%) in Grenada.

Conclusions: Greater prevention efforts and measures are needed in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to prevent pregnant women from consuming alcohol during pregnancy and decrease the rates of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Additional high quality studies on the prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean are also needed.

Published in Pregnant Women

Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy are among the strongest and most preventable risk factors for adverse neonatal health outcomes, but few developmentally sensitive, population-based studies of this phenomenon have been conducted. To address this gap, the present study examined the prevalence and correlates of alcohol and tobacco use among pregnant adolescents (aged 12-17) and adults (aged 18-44) in the United States. Data were derived from the population-based National Survey of Drug Use and Health (80,498 adolescent and 152,043 adult women) between 2005 and 2014. Findings show disconcerting levels of past-month use among pregnant women with 11.5% of adolescent and 8.7% of adult women using alcohol, and 23.0% of adolescent and 14.9% of adult women using tobacco. Compared to their non-pregnant counterparts, pregnant adolescents were less likely to report past 30-day alcohol use (AOR=0.52, 95% CI=0.36-0.76), but more likely to report past 30-day tobacco use (AOR=2.20, 95% CI=1.53-3.18). Compared to their non-pregnant adult counterparts, pregnant adults were less likely to report using alcohol (AOR=0.06, 95% CI=0.05-0.07) and tobacco (AOR=0.47, 95% CI=0.43-0.52). Compared to pregnant abstainers, pregnant women reporting alcohol/tobacco use were more likely to have had a major depressive episode in the past 12 months, report criminal justice system involvement, and endorse comorbid alcohol/tobacco use. Given alcohol and tobacco's deleterious consequences during pregnancy, increased attention to reducing use is critical. Findings suggest that tobacco use is especially problematic for both adolescents and adults and is strongly linked with depression and criminal justice involvement, especially among adults.

Published in Pregnant Women

BACKGROUND: Alcohol use during pregnancy is the direct cause of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). We aimed to estimate the prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy and FAS in the general population and, by linking these two indicators, estimate the number of pregnant women that consumed alcohol during pregnancy per one case of FAS.

METHODS: We began by doing two independent comprehensive systematic literature searches using multiple electronic databases for original quantitative studies that reported the prevalence in the general population of the respective country of alcohol use during pregnancy published from Jan 1, 1984, to June 30, 2014, or the prevalence of FAS published from Nov 1, 1973, to June 30, 2015, in a peer-reviewed journal or scholarly report. Each study on the prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy was critically appraised using a checklist for observational studies, and each study on the prevalence of FAS was critically appraised by use of a method specifically designed for systematic reviews addressing questions of prevalence. Studies on the prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy and/or FAS were omitted if they used a sample population not generalisable to the general population of the respective country, reported a pooled estimate by combining several studies, or were published in iteration. Studies that excluded abstainers were also omitted for the prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy. We then did country-specific random-effects meta-analyses to estimate the pooled prevalence of these indicators. For countries with one or no empirical studies, we predicted prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy using fractional response regression modelling and prevalence of FAS using a quotient of the average number of women who consumed alcohol during pregnancy per one case of FAS. We used Monte Carlo simulations to derive confidence intervals for the country-specific point estimates of the prevalence of FAS. We estimated WHO regional and global averages of the prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy and FAS, weighted by the number of livebirths per country. The review protocols for the prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy (CRD42016033835) and FAS (CRD42016033837) are available on PROSPERO.

FINDINGS: Of 23 470 studies identified for the prevalence of alcohol use, 328 studies were retained for systematic review and meta-analysis; the search strategy for the prevalence of FAS yielded 11 110 studies, of which 62 were used in our analysis. The global prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy was estimated to be 9.8% (95% CI 8.9-11.1) and the estimated prevalence of FAS in the general population was 14.6 per 10 000 people (95% CI 9.4-23.3). We also estimated that one in every 67 women who consumed alcohol during pregnancy would deliver a child with FAS, which translates to about 119 000 children born with FAS in the world every year.

INTERPRETATION: Alcohol use during pregnancy is common in many countries and as such, FAS is a relatively prevalent alcohol-related birth defect. More effective prevention strategies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy and surveillance of FAS are urgently needed.

FUNDING: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (no external funding was sought).

Published in Pregnant Women

BACKGROUND: Although single-country studies indicate alcohol consumption among some pregnant European women, it is difficult to interpret European differences. Few multinational studies exist using the same methodology.

AIM: To estimate the proportion of women consuming alcohol during pregnancy in Europe, and to analyze whether between country variations could be explained by sociodemography and smoking.

METHODS: An anonymous online questionnaire was accessible for pregnant women and new mothers in 11 European countries during two months between October 2011 and February 2012 in each country. The questionnaire covered alcohol consumption, sociodemographic factors, and smoking habits during pregnancy. Descriptive analyses and logistic regression models were conducted.

FINDINGS: The study population consisted of 7905 women, 53.1% pregnant and 46.9% new mothers. On average, 15.8% reported alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The highest proportion of alcohol consumption during pregnancy was found in the UK (28.5%), Russia (26.5%), and Switzerland (20.9%) and the lowest in Norway (4.1%), Sweden (7.2%), and Poland (9.7%). When reporting alcohol consumption during pregnancy, 39% consumed at least one unit per month. In Italy, Switzerland, and the UK, over half consumed at least one alcohol unit per month. Higher education and smoking before pregnancy were predictors of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

CONCLUSIONS: Almost 16% of women resident in Europe consumed alcohol during pregnancy with large cross-country variations. Education and smoking prior to pregnancy could not fully explain the differences between the European countries. A united European strategy to prevent alcohol consumption during pregnancy is needed with focus on countries with the highest consumption.

Published in Pregnant Women
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