Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief
It is generally accepted that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is unwise due to the possibility of adverse consequences for the unborn baby. This study from Scotland by Symon et al. (2016) titled: 'Peri-conceptual and mid-pregnancy drinking: a cross-sectional assessment in two Scottish health board areas using a 7-day Retrospective Diary' and published in JAN aimed: 'to evaluate the use of a 7-day Retrospective Diary to assess peri-conceptual and mid-pregnancy alcohol consumption.'
Over 500 women participated and, in the light of prevailing health warnings about drinking alcohol in pregnancy, the results are worrying. As the authors explain: 'Over half the participants admitted to drinking above recommended daily limits at least occasionally in the peri-conceptual period; over a fifth did so weekly' and 'Twenty-eight women said they had drunk more than the recommended two units a day since finding out they were pregnant.' Saturday night was the most common night for drinking and: '196 women drank varying amounts of wine and 177 drank spirits. Six women admitted to drinking on their own peri-conceptually; one also said she drank on her own during pregnancy. All others said they only drank with family and/or friends.'
The authors concluded: 'We found some evidence to confirm the link between pre-pregnancy and pregnancy drinking reported in the wider literature, particularly when infrequent but heavy' and 'Existing alcohol screening instruments do not capture well the complexity of drinking patterns. As we found, some women engage in heavy episodic drinking without exceeding recommended weekly pre-pregnancy limits.'
You can listen to this as a podcast
SYMON A., RANKIN J., SINCLAIR H., BUTCHER G., BARCLAY K., GORDON R., MACDONALD M. & SMITH L. (2016) Peri-conceptual and mid-pregnancy drinking: a cross-sectional assessment in two Scottish health board areas using a 7-day Retrospective Diary. Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.13112