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Alcohol Pregnancy

Gaps Remain in Alcohol Use Screening Among Pregnant Patients

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

Although about 80% of pregnant women were asked about their alcohol use, only 16% of those who self-reported current drinking were advised by a healthcare provider to quit drinking alcohol or reduce their intake, according to a CDC data analysis.

Researchers examined data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual phone survey of noninstitutionalized U.S. adults age 18 years and older designed to assess health-related behaviors. Investigators scrutinized 950 pregnant people from 23 states and the District of Columbia who self-reported in 2017 and 2019 information about recent healthcare visits, specifically alcohol use habits and whether their clinicians had engaged in alcohol screening and brief intervention (ASBI) conversations.

Among pregnant respondents, 13.3% reported current drinking and 6.9% reported binge drinking. Eighty percent reported their healthcare provider asked about alcohol use. Only 16% of those who had consumed alcohol within the last 30 days of that visit were counseled to cut back or quit.

“Despite evidence [suggesting] that ASBI is effective in reducing alcohol use, this analysis indicates that ASBI is underutilized in certain populations of pregnant persons,” the authors wrote. “Strategies to address [barriers] include integrating screenings into electronic health records, increasing reimbursement for ASBI services, implementing electronic ASBI, and developing training and tools for conducting ASBI in both traditional and nontraditional settings. Disparities in brief intervention highlight opportunities for expanding communication with patients who report alcohol consumption during pregnancy about associated risks to prevent and reduce adverse alcohol-associated pregnancy outcomes.”

For more on this and related subjects, be sure to read the latest issues of OB/GYN Clinical Alert.