Objective: To examine knowledge, attitudes, current clinical practices, and educational needs of obstetrician-gynecologists regarding patients' alcohol use during pregnancy.
Methods: A 20-item, self-administered questionnaire on patients' prenatal alcohol use was sent to 1000 active ACOG fellows. Responses were analyzed using univariate and multivariate statistical techniques.
Results: Of the 60% of the obstetrician-gynecologists who responded to the survey, 97% reported asking their pregnant patients about alcohol use. When a patient reports alcohol use, most respondents reported that they always discuss adverse effects and always advise abstinence. One fifth of the respondents (20%) reported abstinence to be the safest way to avoid all four of the adverse pregnancy outcomes cited (ie, spontaneous abortion, central nervous system impairment, birth defects, and fetal alcohol syndrome); 13% were unsure about levels associated with all of the adverse outcomes; and 4% reported that consumption of eight or more drinks per week did not pose a risk for any of the four adverse outcomes. The two resources that respondents said they needed most to improve alcohol-use assessment were information on thresholds for adverse reproductive outcomes (83%) and referral resources for patients with alcohol problems (63%).
Conclusion: Efforts should be made to provide practicing obstetrician-gynecologists with updates on the adverse effects of alcohol use by pregnant women and with effective methods for screening and counseling women who report alcohol use during pregnancy.