Drinking during pregnancy: American Indians and African Americans

ity women." Kaskutas said she chose to focus on urban women because most of the research on American Indians has been carried out on reservations, and the few studies on Black urban women have not included American Indian urban women.

"There are also some misconceptions among the women most in need of accurate information," she continued. "Fewer than one in five of these women realize that it helps to cut down any time during pregnancy; African Americans and heavier drinkers are the most likely to feel this way. We also found that some women think certain beverages are safer than others. For example, wine drinkers think wine is safer, beer drinkers think beer is safer. Some women think that 'if it burns going down,' then it's bad for the baby, otherwise it's not. In addition, the women who drank more often also tended to have larger drinks. A woman may tell the nurse she just has one drink a day, but maybe her single drink was really a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor." Kaskutas noted that, within the alcohol studies field, one 12-ounce can of beer equals one standard drink, as does one four-ounce glass of wine, and one one-ounce shot of whiskey. Fortified wine has a higher alcohol content than wine; malt liquor has a higher alcohol content than beer.

"This study tells us a number of things," said Kaskutas, "but probably the two most important findings have to do with message content and determination of risk. Current health messages call for abstention from alcohol during pregnancy. This is great if it works, but the reality is that the ones who continue drinking are the heavier drinkers. They ignore the abstention message. For these women, we need to make it clear that it does help to cut down at any time during the pregnancy. The second finding concerns drink size. We have got to pay attention to drink size when we study drinking during pregnancy. We also need to tell pregnant women about standard drink sizes, so they ca

Contact: Lee Ann Kaskutas, Dr.P.H.
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

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