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Substance use, psychological distress and violence among pregnant and breastfeeding Australian women

journal contribution
posted on 01.02.2007, 00:00 authored by C Wallace, L Burns, S Gilmour, Delyse HutchinsonDelyse Hutchinson
OBJECTIVE: To identify the population prevalence and demographic characteristics of pregnant and/or breastfeeding Australian women who use licit and illicit substances and their experience of psychological distress and violence. METHODS: Data from the 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey were used to determine the prevalence of substance use, psychological distress and violence experienced by pregnant and/or breastfeeding women. RESULTS: A total of 976 pregnant and/or breastfeeding women were included. These women were significantly less likely than non-pregnant women to consume alcohol (47% vs. 85%) or any illicit drug (6% vs. 17%); however, there was no significant difference in tobacco smoking (20% vs. 25%). Self-reported psychological distress was significantly more frequent in the non-pregnant group (42%) than in the pregnant group, irrespective of substance use status. At a population level, pregnant and/or breastfeeding women were not at a heightened risk of psychological distress or violence. DISCUSSION: These findings highlight the importance of targeting older, tertiary-educated and relatively affluent mothers and those living in regional areas for drug and alcohol education campaigns and treatment. IMPLICATIONS: Simplifying the National Health and Medical Research Council pregnancy-specific alcohol guidelines, improving clinician training, and increasing the availability of treatment options in rural and regional areas may assist in the identification, referral and provision of assistance to substance using pregnant/breastfeeding women.



Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health






51 - 56




London, Eng.





Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2007, Wiley