Preventing Alcohol Exposed Pregnancies Toolkit
Alcohol Use In Pregnancy
Alcohol use in pregnancy is known to cause behavioral, mental, and physical problems in children who have been exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. There is no known safe time or amount of alcohol use during pregnancy. If you drink and are planning a pregnancy or want further help on stopping your drinking, contact Colorado Department of Health Care.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are 100% preventable and are the leading known cause of preventable, intellectual disabilities in the US.
Universal prevention and intervention helps the whole community understand that drinking alcohol can have hazardous consequences, particularly during pregnancy. The universal prevention message for FASD is to ensure all women of childbearing age understand that risk drinking is more than seven drinks in a week and more than three drinks at a sitting. All women who are planning a pregnancy should avoid alcohol while attempting to get pregnant, and they should abstain from all forms of alcohol during the pregnancy.
Selective prevention interventions are for women of childbearing age. The goal is to target women who are at greater risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy because they are a sub-group of the population known to be at higher risk than the general population. These interventions strategies will involve different levels of targeting and intensity compared to universal preventive interventions like CHOICES. Physicians, other health care providers, substance abuse counselors and other human services workers should be prepared to talk to all women of childbearing age about their alcohol use, screen women for indication of alcohol use/abuse, conduct further assessments as necessary, and be prepared to offer brief interventions. If appropriate, referral for formal treatment of alcohol dependence should be made. Indicated prevention interventions are for women at highest-risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy (AEP). Following an AEP, a small proportion of children will be born with FAS and a somewhat larger portion of children will be born with the spectrum of FASD. The target group for indicated prevention is women who engage in heavy drinking while pregnant or at risk for being pregnant, particularly the pregnant or pre-conceptional woman who drinks alcohol and who has already given birth to a child with an FASD (please see CDC Preconception).
Indicated interventions are also aimed at the partner, significant friends, or family members of a woman who fits the profile just described. Indicated prevention of FASD includes treatment for alcohol use disorders for a pregnant woman or for anyone who could become pregnant. In some cases, women do not seek obstetric services until delivery, so any healthcare provider who comes in contact with women who misuses alcohol should consider brief intervention therapies and referral to more formal substance use treatment. Women of reproductive age who abuse alcohol should also be offered referral and access to birth control information and services.