The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women who are pregnant or could become pregnant avoid alcohol use. Do women follow that advice? A study out of Vanderbilt University say yes—the vast majority stopped or reduced their drinking after their positive pregnancy test.
Researchers looked at data from more than 5,000 newly pregnant women in eight U.S. cities. Most quit completely, and about 6 percent of women continued to consume some alcohol, but almost all of them at very low levels.
“Our study was not focused on whether or not alcohol is safe in the early conception window,” said study senior author Dr. Katherine Hartmann, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. “We wanted to see what actual women were currently doing. And we were pleasantly surprised about how promptly people changed their alcohol use.”
She added that changing drinking habits is most effective the earlier women know they’re pregnant. “Women were already self-regulating their alcohol use. Our findings suggested that promoting early pregnancy awareness could prove to be more effective than promoting abstinence from alcohol among all who could conceive,” she said.
The study is in the April 2017 issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.