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REFERENCE: Chambers C. D., Hovell, M. F., Wahlgren D. R., Meltzer S. B., Riley E. P. (2002). Alcohol use among a low-income sample of Latinas of reproductive age: Opportunities for prevention and intervention. Poster presented at the Inaugural Conference of the CDC National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Sept. 17-19, 2002.

Objective: Alcohol use among Latinas of reproductive age has not been well studied; however, available data suggest that changing cultural practices contribute to the increase in alcohol use among these women. The design of effective strategies for preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies among Latinas requires additional data regarding prevalence, drinking patterns, and the potential for behavior change.

Methods: To explore better methods for measuring alcohol consumption in low-income Latinas, and to test the effectiveness of a randomized feedback intervention in current drinking Latinas who may become pregnant, we ascertained a sample of childbearing-aged women from WIC sites in San Diego, California. We present data from the initial screening tool used to determine subject eligibility for the interview and intervention phase of this project.

Results: Of 937 self-administered screening questionnaires obtained over a two-month period from three WIC sites, 565 women identified themselves as Latina, 448 (80%) of whom were not pregnant and 114 (20%) pregnant at the time of the screen. Both pregnant and non-pregnant Latinas reported similar rates of ever-drinking (66%), with the highest proportion of ever-drinkers among those in the 20-24 year old age range (73%). Among pregnant women, 13% reported alcohol use in the previous three months, and 8% in the last month. Among non-pregnant women, 33% indicated alcohol consumption in the last three months, and 20% in the last month. Reported alcohol use was almost twice as frequent among the 73% of respondents who completed the form in English relative to the 27% who responded in Spanish. Recent drinking was strongly associated with current smoking status.

Conclusions: Although based on preliminary information, these data suggest that alcohol use among pregnant and potentially pregnant low-income Latinas in the San Diego WIC population represents an opportunity for intervention and prevention of alcohol-exposed pregnancies.

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