Evaluation of a retrospective diary for peri-conceptual and mid-pregnancy drinking in Scotland: a cross-sectional study

  • Andrew Symon, Jean Rankin, Geraldine Butcher, Lesley Smith, Lynda Cochrane
  • Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica, December 2016, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/aogs.13050

What is it about?

We tested a Retrospective Diary for alcohol consumption with 510 pregnant women. There are concerns that existing screening does not identify the true extent or nature of alcohol intake, particularly around the time of conception or in the crucial early weeks of pregnancy when the woman might not know she is pregnant.

Why is it important?

Alcohol consumption in women has increased in recent years. ‘Binge’ drinking is associated with unplanned pregnancies and with delayed recognition of pregnancy. Significant concerns exist about the identification of alcohol consumption both around the time of conception and during pregnancy. Our Retrospective Diary elicited much higher reports of alcohol consumption around the time of conception and during pregnancy than the standard tools, which calls into question whether current practice is identifying alcohol-exposed pregnancies.


Dr Andrew Symon
University of Dundee

Assessing pre-pregnancy as well as pregnancy drinking is important, but doing this prospectively is difficult. By providing a reasonably detailed alcohol history our Retrospective Diary approach goes beyond simply identifying consumption thresholds which raise concern. This offers a greater opportunity to identify the women whose pregnancies may be affected.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Andrew Symon and Jean Rankin

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