Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Pregnancy and Before

Alcohol Use During Pregnancy

Overall
By Maternal Age
Heavy Drinking
Alcohol Awareness
Technical Notes

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) describes a range of birth defects that may occur as a result of a woman drinking alcohol while she is pregnant. It is the leading cause of preventable developmental delays. Alcohol exposure can damage the developing baby’s brain, organs and body, and result in problems that will last a lifetime. Risks to the fetus caused by alcohol are greatest 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. 

Overall

According to 2016 data from Ontario’s Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN) 96.8% (96.2%, 97.2%) or 4,967 new mothers in Simcoe Muskoka reported no alcohol consumption during their most recent pregnancy. However, 166 (3.2% (2.8%, 3.8%)) new mothers reported some level of alcohol consumption during their pregnancy. Over half of these women (57.2% (49.3%, 57.2%)) reported that alcohol consumption occurred before they knew they were pregnant, another quarter of women (25.3% (18.9%, 32.6%)) had consumed less than one drink per month. The proportion of women reporting any alcohol exposure during pregnancy in Ontario overall (2.4% (2.4%, 2.5%)) is significantly lower than for Simcoe Muskoka.

20150710ProportionPregWomenUseAlcoholDuringPreg_SM_ON

​The proportion of new mothers in Simcoe Muskoka who report alcohol exposure during pregnancy has not significantly changed from 2013 to 2016. The proportion of new mothers across Ontario who report alcohol exposure during pregnancy has significantly increased from 1.5% (1.5%, 1.6%) in 2013 to 2.4% (2.4%, 2.5%) in 2016; however, the overall proportion remains lower than is observed in Simcoe Muskoka.
BORNAlcoholUse2013to2016_SMON

By Maternal Age

Approximately one in fifteen (6.7%, (5.1%, 8.7%)) of young mothers (aged 15-24 years) reported alcohol exposure during pregnancy. This is significantly greater than the proportion of new mothers aged 25-34 (2.4% (1.9%, 3.0%)) or aged 35-49 (3.4% (2.3%, 4.7%)) who reported alcohol exposure during pregnancy.

20150710ProportionPregWomenUseAlcoholDuringPregByAge_SM 

Heavy Drinking

According to the 2013/14 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), 24.0% (18.1%, 31.1%) of Simcoe Muskoka women of reproductive years (15-49) reported heavy drinking in the past 12 months. This was significantly higher than the 17.3% (16.1%, 18.6%) of Ontario women of reproductive years (15-49) that reported heavy drinking during the same survey time period. Heavy drinking is slightly more common among younger females in both Simcoe Muskoka and significantly more common among younger females in Ontario as a whole.

 20150715HeavyDrinkingReproFemales19-49_SMON

In 2013/2014, the definition of heavy drinking used by the CCHS changed from consuming five or more alcohol drinks on one occasion, at least once per month in the past 12 months in females, to consuming four or more drinks on one occasion. A slight increase in the proportion of reproductive aged women reporting heavy drinking was observed in 2013/14, and heavy drinking is consistently more frequently reported in Simcoe Muskoka than for Ontario as a whole. Overall, however, the prevalence of heavy drinking has remained fairly consistent for both Simcoe Muskoka and the province.
CCHS_200714_HeavyDrinkingbySYr

Alcohol Awareness

In 2015 in Simcoe Muskoka, a random sample of adults (18 years and older) were asked about how much alcohol is safe for a pregnant woman to drink, as part of the Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS). The majority (85.9% (82.9%, 88.5%)) agreed that there was no safe amount of alcohol for a pregnant woman to drink. In a previous RRFSS survey, between September 2011 and April 2012, about the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant, 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 agreed that alcohol was harmful throughout pregnancy as well as that infants could be born with alcohol in their system.

20150710PercentSMAdultsAgreeWithStatementRegardingDrinkWhilePreg 

Technical Notes

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: