Women's alcohol consumption and risk for alcohol-exposed pregnancies in Russia

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AimsAlcohol-exposed pregnancies (AEP) are the direct cause of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). This study examines drinking patterns among pregnant and non-pregnant women of childbearing age in Russia, a country with one of the highest levels of alcohol consumption in the world.DesignCross-sectional survey.SettingSeven public women's clinics in two locations: St Petersburg (SPB) and the Nizhny Novgorod region (NNR).ParticipantsA total of 648 pregnant and non-pregnant childbearing-age women.MeasurementsA face-to-face structured interview assessed alcohol consumption, pregnancy status/possibility of becoming pregnant and consumption before and after pregnancy recognition.FindingsEighty-nine per cent of non-pregnant women reported consuming alcohol and 65% reported binge drinking in the past 3 months; 47% in NNR and 28% in SPB reported binges at least monthly. Women who might become pregnant consumed alcohol similarly to women who were not likely to become pregnant, and 32% of women in SPB and 54% in NNR were categorized as at risk for AEP. There was a significant decline in drinking after pregnancy identification. Twenty per cent of pregnant women reported consuming alcohol and 6% in SBP (none in NNR) reported binge drinking; however, a high prevalence of binge drinking was found among women who might become pregnant or who were trying to conceive.ConclusionsRussian women substantially reduce drinking after pregnancy recognition compared to pre-pregnancy levels. No reductions were found prior to pregnancy recognition, either when a woman might become pregnant or when she was trying to conceive. The pre-conception period presents a risk window and, therefore, a prevention opportunity.

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