Alcohol and parenthood: An integrative analysis of the effects of transition to parenthood in three Australasian cohorts
To determine the extent to which the transition to parenthood protects against heavy and problematic alcohol consumption in young men and women.
Integrated participant-level data analysis from three population-based prospective Australasian cohort studies.
General community, participants from the Australian Temperament Study, the Christchurch Health and Development Study, and the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study.
Recent binge alcohol use, alcohol abuse/dependence and number of standard alcoholic beverages consumed per occasion.
4015 participants (2151 females; 54%) were assessed on four occasions between ages 21 and 35.
Compared to women with children aged <12 months, women who had not transitioned to parenthood were more likely to meet the criteria for alcohol abuse/dependence and to report recent binge alcohol use.
The proportion of women meeting the criteria for alcohol abuse/dependence and/or binge alcohol use increased with the age of participants’ youngest child, as did the mean number of standard alcoholic beverages consumed on each occasion (1.8 if the youngest child was <1 year of age vs. 3.6 for 5+ years of age).
Associations between parenthood and male alcohol consuption behaviour were considerably weaker.
For most women in their twenties and thirties, parenting a child <1 year of age was associated with reduced alcohol consumption. However, this protective effect diminished after 12 months with alcohol consumption levels close to pre-parenthood levels after five years. There was little change in male alcohol use with the transition to parenthood.