Pregnancy Intention and Maternal Alcohol Consumption

Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Apr;129(4):727-733. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001933.


Objective: To evaluate whether women planning a pregnancy are less likely to use alcohol in early pregnancy than those with unintended pregnancies.

Methods: Right From the Start (2000-2012) is a prospective, community-based pregnancy cohort. Maternal demographic, reproductive, and behavioral data were collected in telephone interviews at enrollment (mean±standard deviation 48±13 days of gestation) and later in the first trimester (mean±standard deviation 85±21 days of gestation). Alcohol consumption characteristics were included in the interviews. We used logistic regression to investigate the association of pregnancy intention with alcohol use.

Results: Among 5,036 women, 55% reported using alcohol in the first trimester with 6% continuing use at the first-trimester interview. Pregnancy was planned by 70% of participants. Alcohol use occurred in 55% and 56% of intended and unintended pregnancies, respectively (P=.32). Adjusting for confounders, women with intended pregnancies were 31% less likely to consume any alcohol in early pregnancy (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.69, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.60-0.81) or binge drink (adjusted OR 0.68, 95% CI 0.54-0.86). Most women, regardless of intention, stopped or decreased alcohol consumption in early pregnancy.

Conclusion: The majority of women, irrespective of intention, stopped or decreased drinking after pregnancy recognition. This suggests promoting early pregnancy awareness could prove more effective than promoting abstinence from alcohol among all who could conceive.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking* / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking* / prevention & control
  • Alcohol Drinking* / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First / psychology
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned / psychology
  • Preventive Health Services* / methods
  • Preventive Health Services* / organization & administration
  • Reproductive Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reproductive Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Tennessee / epidemiology