Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can produce multiple damaging outcomes to the foetus, commonly referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). FASD represents the leading non-genetic cause of preventable birth defects in the United States where alcohol guidelines recommend pregnant woman abstain from alcohol use. This study examined: (i) midwives’ knowledge, attitude and intent to screen for prenatal alcohol use; and (ii) assessed perceived barriers to communicating alcohol-related information.
Using an online questionnaire, data were obtained from midwives (n = 61) in a southwestern US state between March and May 2018. Descriptive statistics were used to describe midwives’ knowledge, attitude, intent and perceived barriers.
Several midwives considered one alcoholic beverage per occasion to be safe for the foetus (20.3%), some thought alcohol was safe during the 3rd trimester (14.8%) only and few thought it was safe in all trimesters. Many midwives (63.3%) were unaware that the TWEAK and T-ACE were validated alcohol screening tools for pregnant women. Furthermore, most midwives (>50%) agreed that limited time with patients, a need for additional training and lack of information on referral resources interfered with their sharing of alcohol abstinence guidelines. Midwives reported highly favourable attitudes and intentions toward sharing alcohol abstinence messages with their pregnant patients.
Discussion and Conclusions
More in-depth research and larger samples are needed to explore barriers (knowledge gaps, limited time with patients, need for additional training) that hinder midwives’ dissemination of abstinence messages to pregnant women and limit the uptake of validated alcohol screening tools.