Are personality traits associated with smoking and alcohol use prior to and during pregnancy?

Published: May 18, 2020


Cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy can have detrimental effects on the developing fetus, including fetal alcohol syndrome and low birth weight. Surprisingly little is known about the association of personality traits with smoking and alcohol consumption in the specific subpopulation of pregnant women.

This study analyzed data from a geographically diverse sample of 603 pregnant women, aged 18 years and older, who provided information regarding their smoking and drinking habits before and during pregnancy. We compared women who consumed alcohol or smoked cigarettes before pregnancy with women who quit or continued smoking or drinking during pregnancy. Associations between personality and maladaptive behaviors prior to and during pregnancy were modeled using logistic regression.

The study revealed that women who scored high on openness to experience were significantly more likely to continue alcohol consumption during pregnancy (OR = 1.07, 95% CI 1.01, 1.14, p = .02). This association was maintained after adjusting for potential confounds.

This study demonstrated a significant relationship between personality traits and women’s likelihood of continued alcohol consumption prior to and during pregnancy. Understanding personality-based determinants of health-detrimental behavior is important in order to design interventions that aim at decreasing rates of maladaptive health behaviors among pregnant women.

Click here for the open-access research study.

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The opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the FASD Prevention Conversation Project, its stakeholders, or funders.

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