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Scand J Public Health. 2003;31(1):5-11.

Use of alcohol and illicit drugs among pregnant Danish women, 1998.

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  • 1Perinatal Epidemiological Research Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby Sygehus, 8200 Aarhus N, Denmark. ukes@soci.au.dk



In 1999 the Danish National Board of Health adjusted its recommendation concerning alcohol in pregnancy: "Avoid alcohol in pregnancy if possible; If you drink, drink no more than 1 drink per day; do not drink every day". In this paper frequency and pattern of alcohol consumption and the use of illicit drugs during early pregnancy among pregnant Danish women are described.


From October to December 1998, 432 Danish-speaking pregnant women referred to the Midwife Centre in Aarhus, Denmark, for routine antenatal care were interviewed at their first visit at 15-16 weeks of gestation. The women were interviewed about average alcohol intake before pregnancy, binge drinking (intake of > or =5 drinks on a single occasion), and the use of illicit drugs in pregnancy. They subsequently filled in a two week diary on current alcohol intake.


Nearly 90% of the women reduced their alcohol intake when they became pregnant. A total of 92% of women reported a maximum intake of three drinks/week, and only 1% exceeded the recommendations of average alcohol intake of six drinks/week. Nevertheless, 25% exceeded the recommended maximum daily intake of one drink in the second trimester, and 40% of the women reported at least one binge episode since conception. Binge drinkers tended to be smokers and primiparous women.


Consumption peaks were a major problem in the first and second trimester. Midwives and doctors should pay special attention to binge drinking when inquiring about alcohol consumption and providing information on alcohol to pregnant women.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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