Prenatal care providers like midwives and nurses found to underestimate the effects of alcohol use during pregnancy. Recent survey concluded that 44% of them think one drink per occasion is acceptable during pregnancy, and 38% think it is safe to have alcohol during at least one trimester of pregnancy.
"Many prenatal care providers remain inadequately informed of the risks of drinking during pregnancy," said John Hannigan, PhD, one of the study's authors and a professor of at Wayne State University's Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute. "They fail to screen actively for alcohol use and miss opportunities for intervention." The research team analyzed 578 survey responses from professional members of the American College of Nurse Midwives.
In collaboration with researchers at University of Massachusetts, the survey assessed knowledge of the effects of prenatal alcohol use, attitudes toward and perceived barriers to screening for alcohol use, and the use of standard screening tools in clinical practice.
These results expand previous research that found prenatal care providers are often inadequately informed of the risks of drinking during pregnancy and fail to actively screen for alcohol use. The study recommends more comprehensive training for providers of care during pregnancy.
"Midwives need to understand the health effects of alcohol use during pregnancy, the importance of screening, and the most reliable screening tools to use," Hannigan said. "The good news is this problem can be fixed."