Prenatal alcohol exposure can produce serious changes in neurodevelopment that last a lifetime, as well as a wide range of congenital abnormalities, and is the main non-hereditary, avoidable cause of intellectual disability in developed countries. It is therefore crucial to understand the determinants of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
This study is aimed at determining the factors that predict it, as well as the interactions between them.
A cross-sectional study was carried out using a random sample of 426 pregnant women being treated at the outpatient clinic of a public university hospital in Seville (Spain), when they were in their twentieth week of pregnancy.
A custom-designed questionnaire was used for data collection and applied in the course of an interview administered by trained health professionals. The data collected were analyzed using hierarchical regression, moderation analysis, and a structural equations model.
Alcohol consumption prior to pregnancy proved to be the most powerful predictor of alcohol intake during pregnancy. Other particularly significant predictors were the percentage of professionals who gave correct advice to the expectant mother—not to consume any alcohol during pregnancy—and perception of the risk from drinking wine during pregnancy. The number of pregnancies correlates positively with alcohol intake during pregnancy, while the expectant mother’s level of education correlates negatively.
Identifying these predictive factors will allow the design of more effective fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) prevention strategies.
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