Information on Alcohol and Pregnancy Australian Survey Results: Inaccurate health information and mixed messages

Last year, NOFASD Australia conducted an online survey to determine the extent to which Australian women were provided with information about the risk of alcohol use during pregnancy. The survey was randomly advertised on Facebook, resulting in 275 women aged between 18-40 years completing the survey.

Survey results provided insight into what information and advice pregnant women received. Almost half of the survey participants reported being told that it was safe to drink during pregnancy. This inaccurate health message was received from friends, family members, the media, other mothers, peers who had consumed alcohol during pregnancy, colleagues, researchers, internet users, friends and relatives who are health professionals and general members of the community.

The results from this survey demonstrate that pregnant women receive inaccurate health information about the risk of drinking alcohol while pregnant, ultimately resulting in mixed health messages and confusion for pregnant women.  This finding is supported by academic research, which has found that pregnant women perceive messages about alcohol and pregnancy to be unclear and, at times, contradictory.

The NOFASD survey results demonstrate that women who are pregnant get their health information from various sources, not just from professionals. Academic research suggests that pregnant women make choices about whether to consume alcohol based on the entirety of information received. This raises concerns because some health professionals do not speak to women about the risks of drinking alcohol (see NOFASD’s blog), leading women’s drinking behaviour during pregnancy to be influenced by inaccurate or mixed health messages.

The information from NOFASD’s survey indicate that health messages around alcohol consumption during pregnancy need to be consistent and clear and should target all members of the community, not just pregnant women. Friends, family members, spouses, the media and general community members all play a role in whether a woman decides to consume alcohol while pregnant.

If you would like information about the risks of alcohol consumption while pregnant, visit the NOFASD Australia website at www.nofasd.org.au or contact us on our helpline 1800 860 613.

If you are a health professional and would like to enquire about FASD training (face-to-face or online), including how to have conversations with women about their alcohol consumption, click here.

Read more results from this online survey:
Not Enough Women Receive Information About Alcohol and Pregnancy
Pregnant Women Pressured to Drink Alcohol

For information about some of the research referenced in this article and for further reading, see the below links:
Influences on drinking choices among Indigenous and non-Indigenous pregnant women in Australia: A qualitative study. Read article
“My midwife said that having a glass of red wine was actually better for the baby”: A focus group study of women and their partner’s knowledge and experiences relating to alcohol consumption in pregnancy. Read

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