The relationship between knowledge of alcohol effects on pregnancy and alcohol use among a sample of urban women
Chandu, Lehlohonolo Tebogo
Alcohol is a major public health problem globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report, alcohol accounts for 2.5 million deaths (4% of total) and 69.4 million (4.5% of total) of Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), (WHO, 2002, 2011). In South Africa, alcohol was found to be the third highest contributor to death and disability (Parry, 2007/8). Among the many far-reaching consequences of alcohol use in South Africa, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in certain regions in the country, rates among the highest in the world (May et al., 2007). Despite higher comparative levels of FAS in rural areas, almost one third of the population in urban sites (Gauteng) demonstrates that FAS is not exclusively a problem of South African rural areas. This study hypothesized that higher knowledge levels about the effects of alcohol on pregnancy may deter use among women. Employing secondary data analysis from a 2006 cross-sectional household survey, this study explored the prevalence of alcohol use among urban women (18-44 years) in the Tshwane Municipality, in general and in pregnancy. It also examined the relationship between knowledge of alcohol effects on pregnancy and alcohol use. A significant association was found between employment status, pregnancy outcome and general alcohol use among women. An almost significant association was found between knowledge of alcohol effects on pregnancy and past month alcohol use, knowledge levels and alcohol use during pregnancy. Findings partially support the hypothesis. However, knowledge of alcohol effects on pregnancy alone cannot deter women from using alcohol. Multiple influencing factors should be considered in planning prevention programmes for urban women’s alcohol use. Further research with larger sample sizes of pregnant women is suggested to explore the associations conclusively.