National Poll of Young Adults

New Poll Shows One Quarter of Young Adults Unaware that 
UK Guidance is to Avoid Alcohol in Pregnancy

The National Organisation for FASD has launched a campaign targeted at young adults.

4 June 2020

In April-May 2020 NOFAS-UK (now the National Organisation for FASD) engaged OnePoll to conduct two surveys to test awareness of the risks of alcohol in pregnancy and to see if the general population knows the national scientific guidance. 

OnePoll polled 2000 18-25 year olds across the UK. The results showed that:

  • 26% could not identify the current Chief Medical Officers’ guidance that the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all if pregnant or if you could become pregnant.
  • 80% said if they or a loved one (e.g. a sister or friend) were pregnant, that having the occasional drink of alcohol would not be ok. However, their understanding of WHY this is important is limited.
  • Only 17% understood that alcohol can cause the most long-term harm to the baby when compared with other substances such as heroin, crack cocaine and smoking.
  • Only 22% knew that the acronym FASD stands for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
  • 49% are getting information about these issues from social media, while only 40% are getting if from a teacher and only 36% from a doctor, midwife or nurse.

National FASD has launched a 3-year campaign funded by the Sylvia Adams Trust specifically targeted at 15-25 year olds. We believe that armed with the facts, this generation can change things. We believe it’s critical to reach young women and men before they are either pregnant or planning a family.

Our new prevention website for young adults, www.PreventFASD.info, has been launched. It includes the award-winning short film, RISK, and facts about the impact of alcohol in pregnancy. It also features #WhyRiskIt, a national competition designed to tap into and amplify the creativity and energy of Gen Z.

In addition, OnePoll conducted a one-question survey for us of 2000 nationally representative adults to see if they could recognise the CMO guidance. The good news is that awareness has improved over the same question asked last year. 

  • 82% of adults (all ages) identified the CMO guidance in April 2020. When broken down by age, this poll supported the above finding with 75% of 18-24 year olds who identified the CMO guidance. 
  • 76% of adults (all ages) identified the CMO guidance in April 2019. 67% of 18-24 year olds identified the CMO guidance in this poll, so there has been some improvement in the past year. One significant change in the year since is that there has been a push in social media by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership’s #Drymester campaign which might explain this, although that is supposition and wasn’t tested in our polling. 

However, there is no room for complacency as this means a significant proportion of the population still has not taken on board the message that it’s safest to avoid alcohol during pregnancy despite this being the official guidance of the UK’s chief medical officers since 2016. It is urgent that senior officials and public health bodies reinforce this message publicly. 

For more information, please contact Sandra Butcher: info@nofas-uk.org

A pdf of the above summary is available here.

This poll of 2000 18-25 year olds can be viewed in full here.

This single question poll of 2000 nationally representative adults can be viewed in full here.