A reduction in reported alcohol use in pregnancy in Australian Aboriginal communities: a prevention campaign showing promise

Martyn Symons, Maureen Carter, June Oscar, Glenn Pearson, Kaashifah Bruce, Kristy Newett, James P. Fitzpatrick



Aboriginal leaders in remote Western Australian communities with high rates of prenatal alcohol exposure invited researchers to evaluate the community-led Marulu foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) Prevention Strategy initiated in 2010.


The proportion of women reporting alcohol use during pregnancy to midwives was compared between 2008, 2010 and 2015. Initial midwife appointments were calculated by weeks of gestation. The proportions of women reporting alcohol use by age at birth were compared.


Alcohol use reduced significantly from 2010 (61.0%) to 2015 (31.9%) with first trimester use reducing significantly from 2008 (45.1%) to 2015 (21.6%). Across all years, 40.8% reported alcohol use during pregnancy and 14.8% reported use in both first and third trimesters. Most women attended the midwife in the first trimester. There was a significant relationship between increased maternal age and third-trimester alcohol use.


The reduction in reported prenatal alcohol exposure in an Aboriginal community setting during a period of prevention activities provides initial evidence for a community-led strategy that might be applicable to similar communities.

Implications for public health: The reductions in alcohol use reduce the risk of children being born with FASD in an area with high prevalence, with possible resultant reductions in associated health, economic and societal costs.

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