Young people most aware of drinking during pregnancy

9th July 2018

Young people in New Zealand are leading the way where it comes to attitudes and awareness around the risks of drinking during pregnancy.

A Health Promotion Agency survey shows that 84% of Kiwis disagreed with the statement that drinking small amounts of alcohol is okay during pregnancy, with 15-24-year-olds showing the greatest level of disagreement of any group.

The figures show that 96% of women of childbearing age (18-44) agree with the statement, ‘I would stop drinking completely if I knew I was pregnant’, and 94% agreed with the statement that they would stop drinking completely if there was a chance they could be pregnant. However, 100% of younger women, aged 18-24, indicated a higher level of agreement with both statements than those in all other groups.

New Zealand Alcohol Beverages Council Executive Director Nick Leggett says significant trending-down of hazardous drinking among young people was also reflected in their attitudes.

He says that rather than constantly calling “crisis” on youth drinking, we should be handing out bouquets.

Overall, 88% of Kiwis agreed with the statement, ‘I would encourage a friend or family member to stop drinking completely if she was pregnant’. Once again, a higher number (92%) of 15-24-year-olds agreed. There were also no significant differences in agreement by ethnicity or household income, which is positive, he says.

“The consistently greater opposition to drinking in pregnancy and the peer pressure in younger age groups is good news because it indicates the message is getting through, and drinking while pregnant is a naturally declining problem in our society.

“We shouldn’t rest on our laurels, but we should note with some satisfaction that those coming into key childbearing ages are the most aware and least likely to take risks while drinking in pregnancy.”

Mr Leggett says the alcohol industry continues to increase its investment in awareness and education concerning the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy.

• See the HPA survey ‘Attitudes to drinking in pregnancy’ here

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