Fathers and alcohol. Implications for preconception, pregnancy, infant and childhood health outcomes October 2016 Nyanda McBride and Sophia Johnson, NDRI
Alcohol consumption during preconception and pregnancy is generally considered to be the prospective mother’s responsibility, with many current international alcohol policy guidelines recommending the reduction or non-use of alcohol by pregnant women1-4. However, research suggests that decisions about alcohol use can often be influenced by others, in particular the prospective father.
A new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found that while young adults are more likely than any other age group to drink at risky levels, they were the least likely to receive treatment for alcohol use.
It found instead that it was the older age groups who were more likely to receive treatment, with almost half (49 per cent) of clients receiving treatment for alcohol being aged in their forties.
Spokesperson for the AIHW, Tim Beard said the report, Trends in Alcohol Availability, Use and Treatment 2003-04 to 2014-15 revealed that overall, the use of alcohol treatment had increased to 30 treatment episodes per 10,000 people in 2013-14, up 20 per cent from a decade ago.
“While treatment for alcohol use had been consistently rising, alcohol consumption has fallen,” Mr Beard said.
“In 2013-14, consumption of alcohol was 9.7 litres per person, down from 10.8 litres in 2008-09.
“On the same note, the proportion of Australians who abstain from drinking alcohol has also risen in recent years, from 17 per cent in 2004 to 22 per cent in 2013.”
“Between 2004 and 2013 there was an 11 per cent fall in the rate of Australians drinking at risky levels on a single occasion (from 2,950 to 2,640 per 10,000 population), and a 13 per cent fall in those drinking at risky levels over their lifetime (from 2,080 to 1,820 per 10,000 population),” Mr Beard said. He said there had also been some positive trends in risky alcohol consumption.
“These results suggest strategies such as increasing the price of alcohol, restricting trading hours and reducing outlet density can have positive outcomes in reducing the overall consumption levels of alcohol.”
He said that while there were positive drinking patterns emerging overall, patterns of risky drinking and alcohol dependence continued to be significant issues in Australia, with less favourable patterns seen among some groups.
Read the 40-page report here
By consumer affairs reporter Amy Bainbridge and Alex McDonald (Updated Mar 2016, 3:53pm)
The notion that moderate drinking can help you live a longer and healthier life is being challenged by new research released today.
A team of international researchers found that a number of studies linking one or two drinks per day with a range of health benefits were based on flawed science.
Curtin University's Tanya Chikritzhs, the principal investigator for the project, said her team analysed 87 studies and found most of them used questionable methodology.
Professor Chikritzhs said the main problem was how the studies compared drinkers with non-drinkers to gauge which group was healthier.
Moderate drinkers were more often than not being compared to abstainers, she said.
Professor Chikritzhs said the problem with that approach was that the group of abstainers included former drinkers, who had given up alcohol because of poor health.
"What these studies tend to do when they're trying to identify an abstainer group is to mix up in there a whole bunch of people who haven't drunk in the last 12 months with a whole bunch of people who used to drink 10 years ago, five years ago and so on," Professor Chikritzhs told the ABC.
"So essentially they set up a situation where an abstainer group looks as if they're in worse health than the drinker group.
"What we identified is when you account for this bias built into the methodologies of these studies, you actually don't find a protective effect of alcohol at all."
Professor Chikritzhs said there were other ways to look more accurately at the health impacts of drinking.
"What we found in our study is the best comparison group is not non-drinkers at all, but occasional drinkers, so these are people who drink in such small amounts that biologically alcohol could have no effect on their body in terms of protection," she said.
"What we actually found in terms of these occasional drinkers in terms of the longevity stakes — who lives longer — it's the occasional drinker who live the longest, so they outdo the people who are drinking at moderate levels."