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

Addiction. 2012 Jan;107(1):109-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03569.x. Epub 2011 Oct 12.


Aims: Alcohol-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.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Seven public women's clinics in two locations: St Petersburg (SPB) and the Nizhny Novgorod region (NNR).

Participants: A total of 648 pregnant and non-pregnant childbearing-age women.

Measurements: A face-to-face structured interview assessed alcohol consumption, pregnancy status/possibility of becoming pregnant and consumption before and after pregnancy recognition.

Findings: Eighty-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.

Conclusions: Russian 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / poisoning
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethanol / poisoning
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / epidemiology
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / etiology
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / prevention & control
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Russia / epidemiology
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Women / psychology*
  • Young Adult


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol