Youth beliefs and knowledge about the risks of drinking while pregnant

David Mackinnon, R. M. Williams-Avery, M. A. Pentz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


BECAUSE NO PUBLISHED studies of young persons' knowledge and awareness of fetal alcohol syndrome are available, the awareness and beliefs about drinking while pregnant in several large samples of young persons ages 13-20 are examined. Approximately 81 percent of the entire sample that completed questionnaires in school surveys believe that drinking alcohol while pregnant car definitely harm the fetus, although males and younger persons are less likely to believe in this risk. A substantial proportion of respondents believe that occasional heavy use is not harmful and suggest a safe level of drinking that is higher than the Surgeon General's abstinence recommendations. Only 72 percent have heard of fetal alcohol syndrome, and more than one third incorrectly report that it describes a baby born addicted to alcohol, that the syndrome can be inherited, and that it can be cured. As in prior studies of adults, beliefs about drinking while pregnant are inconsistent with the Surgeon General's recommendations. Implications for increasing the awareness of the risk of drinking while pregnant are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-763
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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