By Maternal Age
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a range of birth defects that may occur when a woman drinks alcohol while she is pregnant. It is the leading cause of preventable developmental delays. Alcohol can damage the baby’s brain, organs and body and result in problems that will last a lifetime. Damage by alcohol to the fetus is most significant during the early weeks of pregnancy when a woman may not know she is pregnant. No amount or type of alcohol is safe during pregnancy and there is no safe time to drink alcohol while pregnant. For more information on alcohol use and pregnancy, please visit the parents and parents-to-be section of the health unit's website.
According to 2014 data from Ontario’s Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN) 97.6% (97.1%, 98.0%) or 4,669 new mothers in Simcoe Muskoka reported drinking no alcohol during their most recent pregnancy. However, 115 (2.4% (2.0%, 2.9%)) new mothers reported some level of alcohol consumption during their pregnancy. Of those who identified an alcohol exposure during pregnancy, most (48.7% (39.3%,58.2%)) had consumed less than one drink per month.
The proportion of women reporting an alcohol exposure during pregnancy in Simcoe Muskoka is similar to Ontario overall (2.2% (2.1%, 2.3%)).
By Maternal Age
Four percent (4.0%, (2.8%, 5.5%)) of young mothers (aged 15-24 years) reported alcohol exposure during pregnancy, which is significantly greater than the proportion of new mothers aged 25-34 who reported alcohol exposure (1.9% (1.5%, 2.5%)). Just over 2% (2.2%, (1.3%, 3.5%)) of new mothers aged 35-49 years reported alcohol exposure during pregnancy.
According to the CCHS, between 2007 and 2010, 17% (13.2%, 20.2%) of Simcoe Muskoka women of reproductive years (19-49) reported heavy drinking in the past 12 months. This was significantly higher than the 13% (12.3%, 13.7%) of Ontario women of reproductive years (19-49) that reported heavy drinking during the same survey time period. Heavy drinking is significantly more common among younger females in both Simcoe Muskoka and Ontario as a whole.
Between September 2011 and April 2012 in Simcoe Muskoka, a random sample of adults (18 years and older) were asked questions about the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant as part of the Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS). The majority of adults surveyed were in agreement with the following statements:
- Drinking alcohol while pregnant is harmful throughout the pregnancy (68%(64.2%, 71.4%))
- Infants can be born with permanent brain damage if the mother drinks alcohol during the pregnancy (67%(63.5%, 70.8%))
- Infants can be born with birth defects if the mother drinks alcohol during the pregnancy (65%(61.6%, 68.9%))
- Infants can be born with alcohol in their system if a mother drinks alcohol during the pregnancy (62%(58.7%, 66.2%))
These same questions were also asked in 2007 (Oct-Dec) as part of RRFSS. There were significant increases in the percentage of respondents that thought that alcohol was harmful throughout pregnancy and those that thought that the infants could be born with alcohol in their system.
A variety of data sources are used to gain an understanding of alcohol use in women of childbearing age, pregnant women and the awareness of the consequences of using alcohol during pregnancy. Please see the Data Sources page to learn more about each data source: