Article

Multiple Risk Factors During Pregnancy in South Africa: The Need for a Horizontal Approach to Perinatal Care

Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa, .
Prevention Science (Impact Factor: 2.63). 03/2013; 15(3). DOI: 10.1007/s11121-013-0376-8
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT South African children's long-term health and well-being is jeopardized during their mothers' pregnancies by the intersecting epidemics of HIV, alcohol use, low birth weight (LBW; <2,500 g) related to poor nutrition, and depressed mood. This research examines these overlapping risk factors among 1,145 pregnant Xhosa women living in 24 township neighborhoods in Cape Town, South Africa. Results revealed that 66 % of pregnant women experienced at least one risk factor. In descending order of prevalence, 37 % reported depressed mood, 29 % were HIV+, 25 % used alcohol prior to knowing that they were pregnant, and 15 % had a previous childbirth with a LBW infant. Approximately 27 % of women had more than one risk factor: depressed mood was significantly associated with alcohol use and LBW, with a trend to significance with HIV+. In addition, alcohol use was significantly related to HIV+. These results suggest the importance of intervening across multiple risks to maternal and child health, and particularly with depression and alcohol use, to positively impact multiple maternal and infant outcomes.

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    • "There is some evidence that women with a history of past abuse are more likely than women without such a history to experience heightened depressive or post-traumatic symptoms during pregnancy [39]. Recognition of pregnancy may act as an additional stressor that interacts with the woman’s trauma history to increase distress and related drinking behavior [40]. "
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    ABSTRACT: South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and interpersonal trauma. These co-occurring public health problems raise the need to understand alcohol consumption among trauma-exposed pregnant women in this setting. Since a known predictor of drinking during pregnancy is drinking behavior before pregnancy, this study explored the relationship between women's drinking levels before and after pregnancy recognition, and whether traumatic experiences - childhood abuse or recent intimate partner violence (IPV) - moderated this relationship. Women with incident pregnancies (N = 66) were identified from a longitudinal cohort of 560 female drinkers in a township of Cape Town, South Africa. Participants were included if they reported no pregnancy at one assessment and then reported pregnancy four months later at the next assessment. Alcohol use was measured by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), and traumatic experiences of childhood abuse and recent IPV were also assessed. Hierarchical linear regressions controlling for race and age examined childhood abuse and recent IPV as moderators of the effect of pre-pregnancy recognition drinking on post-pregnancy recognition AUDIT scores. Following pregnancy recognition, 73% of women reported drinking at hazardous levels (AUDIT >= 8). Sixty-four percent reported early and/or recent exposure to trauma. While drinking levels before pregnancy significantly predicted drinking levels after pregnancy recognition, t(64) = 3.50, p < .01, this relationship was moderated by experiences of childhood abuse, B = -.577, t(60) = -2.58, p = .01, and recent IPV, B = -.477, t(60) = -2.16, p = .04. Pregnant women without traumatic experiences reported drinking at levels consistent with levels before pregnancy recognition. However, women with traumatic experiences tended to report elevated AUDIT scores following pregnancy recognition, even if low-risk drinkers previously. This study explored how female drinkers in South Africa may differentially modulate their drinking patterns upon pregnancy recognition, depending on trauma history. Our results suggest that women with traumatic experiences are more likely to exhibit risky alcohol consumption when they become pregnant, regardless of prior risk. These findings illuminate the relevance of trauma-informed efforts to reduce FASD in South Africa.
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    The Canadian journal of clinical pharmacology = Journal canadien de pharmacologie clinique 01/2013; 20(3):e321-33.
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