Fathers and alcohol consumption during pregnancy

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Alcohol consumption during preconception and pregnancy is generally considered to be the prospective mother’s responsibility, with many current international alcohol policy guidelines recommending the reduction or non-use of alcohol by pregnant women. However, research suggests that decisions about alcohol use can often be influenced by others, in particular the prospective father.

The National Drug Research Institute did research on the father’s involvement in alcohol exposed pregnancies. This study was initiated due to factors such as; the Australian Alcohol Guidelines, and ‘mothers guilt’. Interestingly, over the past decade the guidelines have changed the recommendations for women’s alcohol consumption during pregnancy from 2 standard drinks per day to no consumption being the safest option. The responsibility has been solely pressed on women and have not focused heavily enough on the social determinants that support the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.

The findings of the research identified that 75% of women who do drink during pregnancy are consuming alcohol together with a partner. Of these women, 40% of drinking episodes are initiated by male partners. The fact that male partners are social facilitators of alcohol consumption nearly half the time is concerning.

The key message this research is trying to convey is that decisions about alcohol use during preconception and pregnancy are not the sole responsibility of women but occur within the context of the home and the broader social environment. More complex policy is required to assist in reducing alcohol-exposed pregnancies and increasing the potential for healthy pregnancies, and fetal and infant outcomes.

Retrieved from: http://actonalcohol.org.au/fathers-and-alcohol/

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