Alcohol consumption patterns among pregnant women in the Moscow region of the Russian Federation

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Data regarding the prevalence and patterns of alcohol consumption among pregnant women in the Russian Federation is lacking. As
part of a longitudinal pregnancy outcome study being conducted in the Moscow Region of Russia, in the 5-month period from January
through May 2005, pregnant women in four prenatal care facilities were screened for self-reported alcohol consumption in the month
around the time of conception and in the most recent month of pregnancy. Among the 413 respondents, 347 (85.0%) reported some alcohol
consumption during one of the two time periods, and 193 (51.9%) of these drinking women reported some alcohol use in the most recent
month. Of particular concern was the pattern of drinking, with 75 (20.2%) of drinking women reporting at least one episode of five or more
drinks around the time of conception, and 153 (41.1%) of drinking women reporting at least one episode of three or four drinks during that
same time period. Furthermore, this same pattern of heavier episodic drinking was reported by 18 (4.8%) and 39 (10.5%) of drinking
women, respectively, in the most recent month in pregnancy before the screening interview. These data indicate that pregnant women
in these areas of the Moscow Region present an important opportunity for education and intervention for alcohol-related birth outcomes.
2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Alcohol consumption patterns among pregnant women
in the Moscow region of the Russian Federation
Christina D. Chambersa,b,*, Lela Kavteladzec, Loudmila Joutchenkoc,
Ludmila N. Bakhirevaa, Kenneth Lyons Jonesa
aDepartment of Pediatrics, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
bDepartment of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
cMoscow Regional Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Moscow, Russia
Received 23 February 2006; received in revised form 2 June 2006; accepted 5 June 2006
Abstract
Data regarding the prevalence and patterns of alcohol consumption among pregnant women in the Russian Federation is lacking. As
part of a longitudinal pregnancy outcome study being conducted in the Moscow Region of Russia, in the 5-month period from January
through May 2005, pregnant women in four prenatal care facilities were screened for self-reported alcohol consumption in the month
around the time of conception and in the most recent month of pregnancy. Among the 413 respondents, 347 (85.0%) reported some alcohol
consumption during one of the two time periods, and 193 (51.9%) of these drinking women reported some alcohol use in the most recent
month. Of particular concern was the pattern of drinking, with 75 (20.2%) of drinking women reporting at least one episode of five or more
drinks around the time of conception, and 153 (41.1%) of drinking women reporting at least one episode of three or four drinks during that
same time period. Furthermore, this same pattern of heavier episodic drinking was reported by 18 (4.8%) and 39 (10.5%) of drinking
women, respectively, in the most recent month in pregnancy before the screening interview. These data indicate that pregnant women
in these areas of the Moscow Region present an important opportunity for education and intervention for alcohol-related birth outcomes.
2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome; Alcohol; Pregnancy; Russian Federation; Epidemiology
1. Introduction
The level of alcohol intake among many adult males in
the Russian Federation is thought to be a major contributor
to morbidity, mortality, and the declining life expectancy
that has been noted in this population in recent years (Bobak
et al., 2003; Shkolnikov et al., 2001). With respect to
adult females, Russian survey data suggest that when averaged
across all age groups, women drink at levels 1/10 to
1/3 that of their male counterparts (Bobak et al., 1999;
Nemtsov, 2001; Zaigrev, 2004).
However, there is very limited information published on
the specific patterns of alcohol use among pregnant women
in the Russian Federation. Data from the European Longitudinal
Study of Pregnancy and Childhood, and from
a 1999 cohort study conducted in antenatal care clinics in
one Northwest Russian city have indicated that a relatively
small proportion of Russian women drink any alcohol during
pregnancy, and the absolute quantities that these women
report tend to be low (Dragonas et al., 1996; Grjibovski
et al., 2004).
As numerous adverse pregnancy outcomes are associated
with even moderate levels of alcohol consumption in
pregnancy, valid estimates of the drinking patterns of pregnant
women are essential (Jacobson & Jacobson, 1994).
Increased risks for alcohol-related birth outcomes include
spontaneous abortion or stillbirth, sudden infant death
syndrome, and a range of developmental disabilities now
encompassed under the term Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
(FASD). These include pre- and postnatal growth deficiency,
learning and behavioral problems as children
mature, and the full-blown Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (Iyasu
et al., 2002; Stratton et al., 1996). Furthermore, evidence
suggests that heavier, episodic, or ‘‘binge’’ drinking is the
specific pattern of pregnancy drinking that confers the highest
risk for FASD (Day & Richardson, 2004). Therefore,
more precise estimates of the quantity, frequency, and
* Corresponding author. Department of Pediatrics, UCSD Medical
Center, Mail Code 8446, 200 W. Arbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92103,
USA. Tel.: þ1-819-543-2082; fax: þ1-619-543-2066.
E-mail address: chchambers@ucsd.edu (C.D. Chambers).
0741-8329/06/$ e see front matter 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2006.06.002
Alcohol 38 (2006) 133e137

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