Research: Prevalence of alcohol use in pregnant women with substance use disorder

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Highlights

A clinic-based study (n = 660) examines prevalence of alcohol use in early pregnancy.

Prevalence was similar in the general obstetrics (OB; 24.5%) and substance use disorder (SUD; 24.1%) populations.

Intensity of alcohol use (binge episodes, drinks/week) was higher in SUD group.

Prenatal programs for women with SUD should screen for alcohol consumption.

Abstract

Background

Prenatal care programs for women with opioid use disorder (OUD) often focus treatment/counseling plans around illicit substances, while concurrent use of alcohol might present an equal or greater risk to the fetus.

Methods

This study evaluated self-reported prevalence of alcohol use in patients participating in a comprehensive prenatal care program for women with substance use disorder (SUD; n = 295), of which 95% are treated for OUD, and pregnant women being served through general obstetrical clinics at the University of New Mexico (n = 365). During the screening phase of a prospective study, patients were asked to report alcohol use in the periconceptional period, and between the last menstrual period and pregnancy recognition.

Results

The screening interview was conducted at 22.3 (median = 22; Q1 = 16; Q3 = 29) gestational weeks. Among patients screened at the SUD clinic, 28.8% and 24.1% reported at least one binge drinking episode in the periconceptional period and in early pregnancy, respectively. The prevalence of binge drinking was similar in the general obstetrics population (24.7% and 24.4%, respectively). Among those who reported drinking in early pregnancy, median number of binge drinking episodes was higher among patients screened at the SUD clinic (median = 3; Q1 = 1; Q3 = 10) compared to the general obstetrics group (median = 1; Q1 = 1; Q3 = 3; p < 0.001).

Conclusions

This study demonstrates a high prevalence of prenatal alcohol use in early pregnancy in both groups, while patients with SUD/OUD consume more alcohol. These findings underscore the need for targeted screening and intervention for alcohol use in all pregnant women, especially those with SUD/OUD.

Click here for access to full length article from ScienceDirect

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