A data driven approach to identify trajectories of prenatal alcohol consumption in an Australian population-based cohort of pregnant women
journal contributionposted on 31.03.2022, 00:27 by Evelyne Muggli, Stephen Hearps, Jane Halliday, Elizabeth J Elliott, Anthony Penington, Deanne K Thompson, Alicia Spittle, Della ForsterDella Forster, Sharon Lewis, Peter J Anderson
Accurate information on dose, frequency and timing of maternal alcohol consumption is critically important when investigating fetal risks from prenatal alcohol exposure. Identification of distinct alcohol use behaviours can also assist in developing directed public health messages about possible adverse child outcomes, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. We aimed to determine group-based trajectories of time-specific, unit-level, alcohol consumption using data from 1458 pregnant women in the Asking Questions about Alcohol in Pregnancy (AQUA) longitudinal study in Melbourne, Australia. Six alcohol consumption trajectories were identified incorporating four timepoints across gestation. Labels were assigned based on consumption in trimester one and whether alcohol use was continued throughout pregnancy: abstained (33.8%); low discontinued (trimester one) (14.4%); moderate discontinued (11.7%); low sustained (13.0%); moderate sustained (23.5%); and high sustained (3.6%). Median weekly consumption in trimester one ranged from 3 g (low discontinued) to 184 g of absolute alcohol (high sustained). Alcohol use after pregnancy recognition decreased dramatically for all sustained drinking trajectories, indicating some awareness of risk to the unborn child. Further, specific maternal characteristics were associated with different trajectories, which may inform targeted health promotion aimed at reducing alcohol use in pregnancy.