Lisa Schölin & Maddie Heenan (2022) “No Alcohol, No Risk. #FASD”– Twitter Activity on Alcohol and Pregnancy among Australian Organizations , Substance Use & Misuse, 57:14, 2021-2030, DOI: 10.1080/10826084.2022.2083170
Objective: Research has suggested that information communicated by public health and industry-funded organizations differ, as organizations linked to industry have tended to downplay risks with alcohol more broadly and pregnancy specifically. There is limited knowledge of how alcohol use in pregnancy and associated risks are communicated on social media in Australia. This study set out to describe communication of health risks associated with alcohol use during pregnancy on Twitter by Australian-based organizations and stakeholders.
Methods: We searched for “alcohol” and “pregnancy”, “pregnant”, or “FASD” on Twitter accounts belonging to potentially relevant organizations, of which 17 had tweeted on the topic. Content analysis was undertaken on all tweets and summarized under eight themes.
Results: A total of 347 tweets were identified, posted between 2010 and 2019 mainly by public health and disability nongovernmental organizations. Tweets generally focused on FASD, but other potential consequences of maternal alcohol use were infrequently mentioned and tended to be generic. We found infrequent mentions of direct advice around alcohol use during pregnancy and official guidelines. Overall, tweets reflected ongoing policy debates in Australia – including alcohol warning labeling, disability policy and increased activity was seen particularly before the second parliamentary inquiry into FASD.
Conclusions: The limited number of tweets from relevant organizations over a nine-year period suggests focus has been on FASD while less discussion of alcohol use during pregnancy was evident. We identified an opportunity for more and consistent communication of trusted national health guidance.