Alcohol Consumption among Low-Income Pregnant Latinas
Background: Due to changing cultural norms, Latinas of childbearing age residing in the U.S. may be at increasing risk of drinking harmful levels of alcohol during pregnancy, and may also be unaware of the risks for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders associated with this behavior. We assessed the prevalence of alcohol consumption in a sample of low-income pregnant Latinas and examined risk factors for alcohol use in the periconceptional period.
Methods: As part of a larger intervention trial, a cross-sectional in-home interview study was conducted among a sample of 100 pregnant low-income Latinas receiving services from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in San Diego County, California.
Results: Fifty-seven percent of respondents indicated they were either life-time abstainers or had not consumed any alcohol in the periconceptional period. Forty-three percent reported some alcohol use in the three months prior to recognition of the current pregnancy, and 20% reported at least one binge episode of four or more standard drinks during that time frame. Five percent reported drinking seven or more drinks per week, and 8% continued drinking alcohol after recognition of pregnancy. Significant predictors of any alcohol use in the periconceptional period included English language/higher level of acculturation, younger maternal age, lower parity, higher level of education, younger age at first drink, and having ever smoked. Women who were aware of alcohol warning messages and /or had more knowledge of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) were significantly more likely to have consumed alcohol in the periconceptional period. Frequency of periconceptional use of alcohol did not differ between women who planned or did not plan the pregnancy.
Conclusion: The prevalence and pattern of early pregnancy alcohol consumption in this sample of Latinas is similar to patterns noted in other race/ethnic groups in the U.S. Level of knowledge about FAS and awareness of warning messages was not protective for early pregnancy alcohol consumption, suggesting that specific knowledge was insufficient to prevent exposure or that other factors reinforce maintenance of alcohol consumption in early pregnancy. Selective interventions in low-income Latinas are warranted, and should be focused on women of reproductive age who are binge or frequent drinkers and who are at risk of becoming pregnant. (Authors)
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