2016 Awareness of the Health Effects of Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy Indicator Report

Purpose of the Health Indicator Report

The purpose of this health indicator report is to provide information on knowledge and beliefs about the effect of drinking alcohol during pregnancy among adults aged 18 and over living in Halton Region.

Background

Alcohol use during pregnancy has the potential to harm an unborn baby; it is dangerous during all stages of pregnancy, but especially the first trimester. The effect of alcohol on the unborn baby varies depending on many factors such as the stage of the pregnancy and the frequency, quantity, and pattern of maternal consumption. Health Canada recommends that women abstain from alcohol use throughout pregnancy.

This health indicator report uses data from the Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS).

Key Findings

Awareness of the Effects of Alcohol on an Unborn Baby

Overall Findings

  • In 2016, 69% of Halton adults thought that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is harmful to an unborn baby, 10% thought it is not harmful, 16% thought that it depends, and 5% did not know.

Sex

  • In 2016, there was no statistically significant difference by sex in the percentage of Halton adults who thought that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is harmful to an unborn baby.

Age

  • In 2016, Halton adults aged 18-24 were more likely than adults of all other age groups to think that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is harmful to an unborn baby. This difference was statistically significant when comparing adults aged 18-24 to adults aged 45-64 and 65+.

Municipality

  • In 2016, there were no statistically significant differences by municipality in the percentage of Halton adults who thought that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is harmful to an unborn baby.

Income

  • In 2016, there were no statistically significant differences by income in the percentage of Halton adults who thought that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is harmful to an unborn baby.

Education

  • In 2016, there were no statistically significant differences by education in the percentage of Halton adults who thought that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is harmful to an unborn baby.

Effects of Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy on the Unborn Baby

Brain Damage

  • In 2016, among Halton adults who answered “yes” or “it depends” when asked if alcohol consumption during pregnancy is harmful, 72% thought that if a woman drank during pregnancy her baby could be born with permanent brain damage, 5% thought that it could not cause permanent brain damage, 14% thought that it depends, and 10% did not know.

Birth Defects and Deformities

  • In 2016, among Halton adults who answered “yes” or “it depends” when asked if alcohol consumption during pregnancy is harmful, 70% thought that if a woman drank alcohol during pregnancy her baby could be born with permanent birth defects or deformities, 6% thought that it could not cause permanent birth defects or deformities, 12% thought that it depends, and 12% did not know.

Perceptions of Time Periods During Pregnancy when Alcohol is Most Harmful

  • In 2016, Halton adults who answered “yes” or “it depends” when asked if alcohol consumption during pregnancy is harmful, reported on when they thought alcohol is most harmful to an unborn baby:
    • 65% thought that alcohol use at any time throughout a pregnancy was harmful
    • 17% thought that alcohol is most harmful at the beginning of a pregnancy
    • 2% thought that alcohol is most harmful in the middle of a pregnancy
    • 2% thought that alcohol is most harmful at the end of a pregnancy
    • 10% thought that alcohol use during a pregnancy is not harmful
    • 4% did not know when alcohol was most harmful