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Matern Child Health J. 2016 Oct;20(10):2209-15. doi: 10.1007/s10995-016-2025-x.

Prevalence of Ethanol Use Among Pregnant Women in Southwestern Uganda.

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School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda.
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
Department of Biochemistry, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda.
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Child and Family Research Institute, BC Children's Hospital, Vancouver, Canada.
Motherisk, Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.
Institute for Maternal Child Heath, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda.
School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Introduction The prevalence of ethanol use in many Sub-Saharan African countries is high, but little research exists on use during pregnancy. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence and predictors of ethanol use among pregnant women in Southwestern Uganda. Methods This descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted in the maternity ward at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH). All pregnant women giving birth at MRRH between September 23, 2013 and November 23, 2013 were eligible for enrollment. The primary outcome was the proportion of women with ethanol use during pregnancy as determined by self-report. Secondary outcomes included the proportion with positive fatty acid ethyl ester (FAEE) results (indicating ethanol use) and positive TWEAK questionnaire results (indicating possible problem drinking). Predictors of ethanol use were assessed and stratified by patterns of ethanol intake. Results Overall, 505 mother-child dyads enrolled in the study. The proportion of women who reported any ethanol use during pregnancy was 16 % (n = 81, 95 % CI 13-19 %) and the prevalence of heavy drinking 6.3 % (n = 32, 95 % CI 3.8-7.9 %). The strongest predictor of use during pregnancy was pre-pregnancy use, with maternal education as a protective factor. Few neonates (n = 11, 2 %) tested positive for FAEE > 2.00 nmol/g in meconium. The TWEAK questionnaire captured 75 % of women who reported moderate/heavy drinking and aligned more with self-reported ethanol use than meconium results. Conclusions The substantial prevalence and clear predictors of ethanol use suggest that legislative action and educational interventions to increase awareness of potential harms could assist in efforts to decrease use during pregnancy in Southwestern Uganda.


Ethanol use; Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; Meconium; Pregnancy; TWEAK

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