Partners play pivotal role in pregnant women's alcohol use a
A new study by a team researchers in the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD) finds that partners of mothers-to-be can directly influence a pregnant woman's likelihood of drinking alcohol and feeling depressed, which affects their babies' development.

The team followed 246 pregnant women at two sites in western Ukraine over time as part of CIFASD.

In their first trimesters, the women reported on their relationship satisfaction, including frequency of quarreling, happiness with the relationship, and the ease of talking to their partners, their partners' substance use, and their socioeconomic status. In the third trimester, the participants were surveyed about their own drinking habits and depressive symptoms. Subsequently, the researchers assessed the infants' mental and psychomotor development around the age of six months.

--According to the team's analysis, pregnant women's depressive symptoms and drinking directly correlated with their relationships with their partners and to their partners' substance use.

--Positive partner influences resulted in women's lower alcohol use in late pregnancy and fewer depressive symptoms.

--The findings applied even when socioeconomic status, which is generally linked to depression and drinking, was taken into account.

--Higher prenatal alcohol exposure resulted in poorer mental and psychomotor development in the infants, though a mother's prenatal depression did not affect babies the way drinking did.

That's why maternal health and pregnancy interventions are likely to be more effective when partners are included, with benefits for both mothers and babies, the team concludes.

Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research