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Alcohol use in Australia

Alcohol use in Australia is widespread and is consumed by men and women of all ages. We know that alcohol can cause widespread harm across all levels of society, including injuries due to falls, burns, and car crashes; medical conditions such as liver and coronary heart disease, and many types of cancer; anti-social behaviour, and fights and violence. FASD Hub Australia is focussed on how alcohol use during pregnancy can affect the development of the fetus.

Information in the tables below are from the National Drug Strategy Household surveys conducted in 2013 and 2016. Nearly 24,000 people responded to each of the surveys. These tables only refer to the percentage of women drinking alcohol. The responses in relation to drinking alcohol during pregnancy are based on the 2013 information, with the 2016 data to be released late in 2017.

Read more about the 2013 Survey and 2016 Survey

National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016

Age (years) 2 standard drinks every day 5+ standard drinks on a single occasion on a monthly basis (binge drinking)  
 18-24  12.8%  37.1%

Shape of a pregnant woman

There is a strong association between binge drinking & unplanned pregnancy*

 25-29  11.1%  27.3%
 30-39  9.6%  20.8%
   *Colvin L., Payne J, Parsons D, Kurinczuk J, & Bower C. (2007). Alcohol consumption during pregnancy in non-Indigenous West Australian women. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 32, 276–284

National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2013

47% of pregnant women
26% of pregnant women
consumed alcohol before knowing they were pregnant continued drinking alcohol after knowing they were pregnant

No alcohol is the safest choice

It is important that everyone is aware of the advice

‘No alcohol when planning a pregnancy, while pregnant and breastfeeding is the safest option'

It is also important that health professionals pass on this message, and the community understands the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy and the effects it can have on the developing fetus.

No level of maternal alcohol consumption at any time during pregnancy can be guaranteed to be completely ‘safe’ or ‘no risk’ for the developing fetus.

Read more in the Australian Guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol (Guideline 4 pages 67-79)

Page last updated 10 October 2019