7.6 Maternal alcohol consumption
Prior to pregnancy there was marked variation in the average amount of alcohol consumed across all mothers (ranging from no alcohol to over 20 drinks per week).
Approximately 30% of all mothers reported that they did not drink alcohol prior to their pregnancy, with similar patterns of alcohol consumption for mothers where pregnancy was planned compared to those where it was unplanned (Figure 22).
The patterns of alcohol consumption changed in both groups during pregnancy. In the
first 3 months of pregnancy more mothers in the planned pregnancy group had stopped drinking any alcohol compared to the unplanned group (83% compared to 69%).
From the second trimester of pregnancy onwards more mothers in the unplanned pregnancy group had stopped drinking alcohol (upward trend from 69% to 89%)
with 85% of the planned group abstaining.
Whilst the majority of all mothers avoided alcohol during pregnancy, a number did continue to consume some alcohol throughout their pregnancy. The current Ministry
of Health guidelines (Ministry of Health 2006) recommend that mothers avoid alcohol altogether in pregnancy, but not all mothers are choosing to do so (Figure 22).
Further, in unplanned pregnancies there is a greater chance that pre-pregnancy alcohol consumption will continue until a pregnancy is recognised or confirmed.
One third of mothers with unplanned pregnancies consumed 4 or more drinks of alcohol per week prior to pregnancy, and 13% of mothers with unplanned pregnancies consumed 4 or more drinks of alcohol a week in the first trimester.
However, it should also be noted
that of those mothers who reported drinking alcohol at all during this pregnancy, many reported drinking less than 1 drink per week.