Alcohol use during pregnancy: Considerations for Australian policy

November 2014
McBride, N. (2014). Alcohol use during pregnancy: Considerations for Australian policy. Social Work in Public Health, 29, (6), pp. 540-548. DOI: 10.1080/19371918.2014.890150.

Although there is an extensive recorded history of concerns related to alcohol exposed pregnancies and possible outcomes of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in recent scientific literature, Australia has only recently begun to accurately or systematically diagnose and record these conditions, or to provide comprehensive, coordinated, policy-guided funding, prevention, and treatment. This article discusses some considerations that can guide policy development within the Australian context including the social context and determinates of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the need to consider the issue as one that goes beyond the decision making of individual women. The article also identifies the contribution of research to guide evidence-based policy development, including emerging evidence of epigenetics, and systematic reviews for prevention. Other policy considerations include costs, and the possibility of the prevention paradox applying to this field, with its associated impact on costs and focus of prevention.