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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Alcohol consumption by parents of Pacific families residing in New Zealand: Findings from the Pacific Islands Families Study

Harmful alcohol consumption amongst Pacific people (those of Polynesian descent) is recognized as a public health priority in New Zealand, yet little epidemiological information exists on this pattern of drinking.

Using a large birth cohort study, which includes the mother, father and child triad, this study aims to determine the prevalence and change in any harmful drinking levels prenatally, antenatally and in the postpartum period for mothers and fathers, and to measure the concordance of both partners' reports of that drinking in an ethnically representative sample of Pacific families within New Zealand. 

Participants were selected from births where at least one parent was identified as being of Pacific ethnicity and a New Zealand permanent resident (1376 mothers and 825 fathers at baseline); many of whom are young to middle aged adults. These participants have been prospectively followed-up multiple times since. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test consumption questions (AUDIT-C) were used over successive measurement waves to define any and harmful drinking levels. Recommended screening thresholds were employed. Longitudinal analyses on complete cases and imputed data, accounting for differential attrition, were undertaken and reported.

Clear temporal patterns of alcohol consumption emerged for both mothers and fathers, together with significant and important ethnic differences. Moreover, there was considerable movement in alcohol consumption categories between consecutive measurement waves for both mothers and fathers. Among couples, there was significant asymmetry in drinking patterns and poor statistical agreement. However, 9.1% (14.1% in imputed analyses) of Pacific children aged 2 years had both parents indicated for harmful drinking. 

The significant important heterogeneity and ethnic differences suggest that both ethnic-specific and pan-Pacific interventions and prevention strategies are likely needed for successful interventions. More emphasis should be placed on targeting and addressing parents' alcohol misuse, particularly in the antenatal or postnatal period.

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