Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a range of disabilities caused by gestational exposure of the fetus to alcohol. Alcohol consumption in Israel has increased dramatically in the last decades. Our previous study revealed limited knowledge among Israeli medical professionals of the risks and potential long-term effects of FASD.
To evaluate the awareness and knowledge of women regarding the current recommendations on alcohol consumption during pregnancy, evaluate how many of the women received information regarding alcohol consumption during pregnancy from medical professionals, and their personal drinking habits during pregnancy.
A cross-sectional sample of new mothers in 3 large hospitals in Israel were asked to complete an ad hoc questionnaire on aspects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
A total of 3815 women of mean age 30.4 years participated in the study; 82% were Jewish. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy was reported by 14.1%, including more than 17% of the Jewish women, 11.1% of the Christian women, and none of the Muslim women. Rates were higher among nonsecular and younger women and first-time mothers. 71.6% of the sample claimed that women should not drink alcohol at all during pregnancy, and 21.4% thought that it was permissible if limited to 2 drinks per week. Seventy-five percent had received no formal information from medical professionals regarding alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
Alcohol consumption is frequent among pregnant women in Israel, especially young secular Jewish women with first pregnancies. Improved educational programs on the dangers of FASD are needed for both professionals and the general public.
Key Words: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, pregnancy, alcohol consumption