INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Pregnant teens are more likely to engage in risky drinking behaviors if their circle of friends uses alcohol, according to a new study.
Irene Tung, Ph.D. from the department of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and her team assessed 432 adolescent and young adult mothers between the ages of 13 and 24. The participants were part of an ongoing study known as the Pittsburgh Girls Study that annually tracks behaviors such as substance abuse, delinquency and incidence of anxiety and depression, among other factors.
Researchers evaluated drinking behaviors in the cohort before, during and after pregnancy and found approximately 11% engaged in “risky” drinking behaviors, particularly during the several weeks prior to delivery. Alcohol use while pregnant was greater for those ages 18 to 24 years old than those ages 13 to 17.
Risky behavior was defined as having three or more alcoholic drinks per occasion.
“Participants’ drinking age was strongly associated with how they perceived their peers’ alcohol use,” according to a Research Society on Alcoholism news release. “Pregnant teens and young adults who perceived their friends to be drinking were more likely [to drink] perhaps because peers reinforce or model alcohol use.”
Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth and stunt a child’s intellectual growth.