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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2011 Jun;35(6):1081-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01441.x. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

Alcohol, smoking, and drug use among Inuit women of childbearing age during pregnancy and the risk to children.

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Public Health Research Unit, CHUQ-Laval University Medical Research Center, Quebec City, QC, Canada.



Alcohol consumption during pregnancy, a known teratogen often associated with drug use and smoking is a well-known public health concern.


This study provides prevalence data for alcohol, smoking, and illicit drug use before, during, and after pregnancy among Inuit. Factors associated with alcohol use are also identified.


Two hundred and eight Inuit women from Arctic Quebec were interviewed at mid-pregnancy, and at 1 and 11 months postpartum to provide descriptive data on smoking, alcohol, and drug use during pregnancy, and the year before and after pregnancy. Sociodemographic and family characteristics potentially associated with alcohol use were documented.


Ninety-two percent of the women reported smoking and 61% reported drinking during pregnancy. Episodes of binging during pregnancy were reported by 62% of the alcohol users, which correspond to 38% of pregnant women. Thirty-six percent of the participants reported using marijuana during pregnancy. Alcohol use and binge drinking during pregnancy were more likely to be reported by women who lived in less crowded houses, had a better knowledge of a second language, drank alcohol more often and in larger amounts prior to pregnancy, and used illicit drugs. Binge drinkers were more likely to be single women and to have had fewer previous pregnancies. Postpartum distress and violence were more likely to be experienced by women who used alcohol during pregnancy. Binge drinking during pregnancy was best predicted by drinking habits before pregnancy, maternal symptoms of depression, the use of illicit drugs during pregnancy, and the number of young children living with the mother.


These results confirm that alcohol is a major risk factor to maternal and child health in this population, underscoring the need for culturally relevant and effective prevention programs.

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