Measurement of maternal alcohol consumption in a pregnant population

Christine L. Savage, Janet N. Wray, Meg Fulmer, P. Neal Ritchey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Alcohol is a known teratogenic substance that operates under a dose‐response mechanism. Before we conducted a larger study that examines the use of alcohol both before pregnancy and during pregnancy, it was important to pilot our method for measuring a pregnant mothers alcohol use that would allow us to capture the number of drinks consumed per day while addressing recall bias. The purpose of this study was 1) to pilot the Time Line Followback (TLFB) method developed by Sobell and Sobell (1992, Measuring Alcohol Use. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press) as a method for examining alcohol use during pregnancy and 2) to determine if the use of a study protocol that included biological markers of alcohol use would affect our ability to recruit subjects. Using a descriptive design, we tested our protocol for collecting alcohol use data with 10 mothers receiving prenatal care. We measured alcohol use using the TLFB method (Sobell and Sobell, 1992, Measuring Alcohol Use. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press, 1996). We also collected collected biological blood markers for heavy alcohol use. Of the 10 maternal subjects we recruited, 5 mothers (50%) reported alcohol use during pregnancy. We successfully recruited 10 out of 11 mothers approached and had a 100% retention rate for the second interview. The TLFB method is viable for measuring fetal alcohol exposure over the pregnancy, and the collection of blood samples did not impact our ability to recruit or retain mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-214
Number of pages4
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Measurement
  • Pregnancy
  • Time Line Followback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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