Is pregnancy the time to change alcohol consumption habits in France?

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2008 May;32(5):868-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2008.00646.x. Epub 2008 Mar 27.


Background: Although it is well known that France has a cultural history of alcohol use, no recent French data on alcohol consumption during pregnancy in a large sample are available.

Methods: To determine the alcohol consumption patterns among pregnant women in France, we analyzed data from a 1-year multicenter self-survey. Sociodemographic profile, obstetrical history, neonatal data, and a self-report for assessing drinking patterns during pregnancy including AUDIT were recorded from women who delivered recently. Cases of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) were also reported.

Results: A total of 837 pregnant women have described all parameters. The mean age at delivery of our sample was 29.7 years (SD = 4.8 years). A total of 52.2% of women indicated that they had consumed alcohol at least once during their pregnancy, and among abstainers 54.5% had a positive AUDIT score. Of the pregnant women who consumed alcohol, 13.7% reported at least one binge drinking episode (5 or more drinks on 1 occasion) during pregnancy. Binge drinking is significantly more frequent than regular alcohol consumption (at least 1 drink more than 1 time per week) during pregnancy. A prevalence rate of FAS of 1.8 per 1,000 live births was observed.

Conclusions: There is a large population of women who still drink alcohol during pregnancy, particularly in binge drinking episodes. This underlines the need to clearly inform women of childbearing age about the dangers of alcohol during pregnancy as related to all types of consumption. Moreover, acting to prevent alcohol consumption prior to pregnancy may also greatly influence prenatal drinking.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / epidemiology
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy