Association Between Insurance Status and Tobacco, Alcohol Use Found

Approximately 19% of uninsured study participants drank alcohol during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Researchers in a recent study discovered a relationship between health insurance status and tobacco and alcohol use among women.

In a study published by Drug Alcohol Dependence, researchers found that pregnant women with health insurance were less likely to have used alcohol in the past month. They did not find a difference in tobacco use.

The study showed that insured women who were not pregnant were more likely to use alcohol, but less likely to use tobacco.

“Prenatal substance use is a major public health concern, and poses significant threats to maternal and child health,” said study first author Qiana L. Brown, PhD. “The widespread availability of health insurance through the Affordable Care Act may serve as a universal prevention intervention to help reduce prenatal substance use.”

Included in the study were 97,788 women aged 12- to 44-years-old who were part of the US National Survey of Drug Use and Health. Approximately 3% of the women included were pregnant.

It was discovered that many insured and uninsured pregnant women used alcohol and tobacco in their first trimester compared with the later trimesters. Researchers found that 19% drank alcohol, and 22% used tobacco within the past month during the first trimester.

Among all of the insured women included, 22% reported tobacco use within the past month. It was found that 33% of uninsured women used tobacco during this time.

Of all insured women, researchers found that 50% reported alcohol use within the past month. Approximately 47% of uninsured women reported alcohol use during this time.

Researchers believe that a larger emphasis on tobacco prevention during prenatal visits may lessen its use during pregnancy.

“Prenatal visits may present a good opportunity for screening and brief intervention regarding tobacco and particularly alcohol use,” concluded co-author Deborah Hasin, PhD. “Particularly for alcohol, evidence indicates that screening and brief advice can be surprisingly effective for medical patients whose drinking is greater than advisable levels but who are not alcohol dependent.”