Prevalence of alcohol use in pregnant women with substance use disorder

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018 Jun 1;187:305-310. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.02.025. Epub 2018 Apr 10.


Background: Prenatal care programs for women with opioid use disorder (OUD) often focus treatment/counseling plans around illicit substances, while concurrent use of alcohol might present an equal or greater risk to the fetus.

Methods: This study evaluated self-reported prevalence of alcohol use in patients participating in a comprehensive prenatal care program for women with substance use disorder (SUD; n = 295), of which 95% are treated for OUD, and pregnant women being served through general obstetrical clinics at the University of New Mexico (n = 365). During the screening phase of a prospective study, patients were asked to report alcohol use in the periconceptional period, and between the last menstrual period and pregnancy recognition.

Results: The screening interview was conducted at 22.3 (median = 22; Q1 = 16; Q3 = 29) gestational weeks. Among patients screened at the SUD clinic, 28.8% and 24.1% reported at least one binge drinking episode in the periconceptional period and in early pregnancy, respectively. The prevalence of binge drinking was similar in the general obstetrics population (24.7% and 24.4%, respectively). Among those who reported drinking in early pregnancy, median number of binge drinking episodes was higher among patients screened at the SUD clinic (median = 3; Q1 = 1; Q3 = 10) compared to the general obstetrics group (median = 1; Q1 = 1; Q3 = 3; p < 0.001).

Conclusions: This study demonstrates a high prevalence of prenatal alcohol use in early pregnancy in both groups, while patients with SUD/OUD consume more alcohol. These findings underscore the need for targeted screening and intervention for alcohol use in all pregnant women, especially those with SUD/OUD.

Keywords: Alcohol consumption; Opioid use disorder; Pregnancy; Prevalence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Pregnant Women*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*