Women using alcohol and drugs in pregnancy are often influenced by other difficulties in their lives.
Alcohol and other drug use in pregnancy
This issue brief was developed as a result of a recent research study looking at alcohol and other drug (AOD) use among pregnant women at Hanover Park (Cape Town, South Africa).
In this study we looked at the profile of women who were using AOD and what factors in their lives were associated with alcohol and drug use. We then interviewed our counsellors to get a better understanding of how they recognise women who are AOD users, and what they do to help them.
This brief summarises some of the findings, such as risk factors, implications for women and advice for healthcare workers to support pregnant women using substances.
(Graph: Risk Factors relating to women’s use of alcohol and other drugs during pregnancy)
“Alcohol and other drugs (AOD) use among pregnant women is associated with poor health outcomes for mothers and children during and after pregnancy. Frequent AOD use has also been linked with low weight gain during pregnancy, less fetal growth, and premature birth. Research has found that South Africa has one of the highest prevalence rates for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in the world. Alcohol, crack/cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine are the most abused substances in South Africa, with alcohol abuse being the most significant problem.”