Many people are aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can place the developing fetus at risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), the largest preventable cause of birth defects and mental retardation in the United States. Fewer people are aware of the role that beverage preference may play in the amount of alcohol exposure. A study in the February issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (ACER) examines beverage preference among urban women from two ethnic groups at highest risk for infants with FAS, Native Americans and African Americans.
"Both Native American and Black women have higher rates of FAS than white women," said Lee Ann Kaskutas, a research scientist with the Alcohol Research Group at Berkeley and lead author of the study. "Yet most of the research on Native Americans has been conducted on reservations, even though many Native Americans live in urban settings. We wanted to find out what these women were drinking, and whether they were drinking in the same way as their counterparts on reservations. In general, there is little information on drinking during pregnancy among urban minority women."
Three groups of urban pregnant women were interviewed - Native Americans (n=70), African Americans (n=129), and whites (n=22) - about their drinking during the 12 months before their pregnancies. The women were asked about their consumption of six types of alcoholic beverages - beer, wine, spirits, malt liquor, fortified wine, and wine coolers - during this time period.
"We included a number of beverage types to be sure that we were i