Thomson, K., Greenwood, C., Letcher, P., Spry, E., Macdonald, J., McAnally, H., . . . Olsson, C. (2021). Continuities in maternal substance use from early adolescence to parenthood: Findings from the intergenerational cohort consortium. Psychological Medicine, 1-10. doi:10.1017/S0033291721003925
This study assessed the extent to which women’s preconception binge drinking, tobacco use and cannabis use, reported prospectively in adolescence and young adulthood, predicted use of these substances during pregnancy and at 1 year postpartum.
Data were pooled from two intergenerational cohort studies: the Australian Temperament Project Generation 3 Study (395 mothers, 691 pregnancies) and the Victorian Intergenerational Health Cohort Study (398 mothers, 609 pregnancies). Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use were assessed in adolescence (13–18 years), young adulthood (19–29 years) and at ages 29–35 years for those transitioning to parenthood. Exposures were weekly or more frequent preconception binge drinking (5 + drinks in one session), tobacco use and cannabis use. Outcomes were any alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use prior to awareness of the pregnancy, after awareness of pregnancy (up to and including the third trimester pregnancy) and at 1 year postpartum.
Frequent preconception binge drinking, tobacco use and cannabis use across both adolescence and young adulthood were strong predictors of continued use post-conception, before and after awareness of the pregnancy and at 1 year postpartum. Substance use limited to young adulthood also predicted continued use post-conception.
Persistent alcohol, tobacco use and cannabis use that starts in adolescence has a strong continuity into parenthood. Reducing substance use in the perinatal period requires action well before pregnancy, commencing in adolescence and continuing into the years before conception and throughout the perinatal period.
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