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Office of Women's Health

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Prevention Initiative

September is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Month and September 9 is Fetal Alcohol Awareness Day, get info about FASD.

What is the FASD Prevention Initiative?

The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Prevention Initiative is an integral part of the Health Start Program which provides education, support and advocacy services to pregnant and postpartum women and their families in targeted communities across Arizona. The Project provides alcohol screening to newly enrolled clients at their first prenatal visit in their home or at a community-based location. Women who are found to be at-risk for prenatal alcohol exposure using a standardized screening tool, are eligible to be provided a Brief Intervention. Referrals are made to substance abuse treatment programs if necessary and monthly follow-up is conducted by the Program. Women who participated in the Brief Intervention are offered a second Brief Intervention at 36 weeks. The health status of the infants and children are followed until age two. The funding for the project is provided through a 4.5 year $1.1 million subcontract with Northrop Grumman, a contractor under the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA). After funding ends, the project will continue to be integrated into the Health Start program and other home visiting programs.

Why is this program needed?

It is estimated that half of all pregnancies are unplanned and 53.1% of women in the United States report current alcohol use. According to a 15 year study by the Center's for Disease Control, the number of women who drink alcohol while pregnant is not decreasing - with approximately 1- in 8 women drinking any amount of alcohol while pregnant. Out of the 87,053 babies born in Arizona last year, it is estimated that 12.5% or 10,881 were born to mothers who engaged in binge drinking during pregnancy. The study also indicated that once mothers give birth, many resume the use of alcohol, cigarettes, illicit drugs or engage in binge drinking. The result of prenatal exposure to alcohol ranges from fetal alcohol syndrome, the leading cause of mental retardation, to other fetal alcohol effects, which include lifelong disruptions in cognitive, linguistic, and social development. In 2010, there were 24 cases of fetal alcohol syndrome diagnosed among hospitalized infants less than 1 year of age in Arizona (ADHS, 2010).

What are the goals of the program?

  • To reduce the prevalence of alcohol use, abuse and dependency among pregnant women.
  • To increase the number of positive birth outcomes for children and reduce the number of children diagnosed with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
  • To develop an infrastructure to support the implementation of the Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention in all Health Start sites

What has the program achieved?

During 2008-2011, the FASD Prevention Project screened 2,508 prenatal women, of which 24% were eligible for a brief intervention and at risk for having an alcohol exposed pregnancy. More than 71% of at risk women have receveived the brief intervention education.


FASD Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Training