Preventing prenatal alcohol exposure

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Final version published as: 

Schwartz, C., Waddell, C., Barican, J., Garland, O., Gray-Grant, D., & Nightingale, L. (2011). Preventing prenatal alcohol exposure. Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly, 5(2), 1–16. Vancouver, BC: Children’s Health Policy Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.

Date created: 

Background: It is well recognized that alcohol impairs fetal development. Both binge drinking and moderate to heavy drinking during pregnancy puts children at risk for lifelong developmental disabilities.       

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify interventions aimed at reducing alcohol consumption in pregnancy. Applying our inclusion criteria, we accepted four randomized controlled trials.

Results: All four programs were brief, consisting of a single 10- to 60-minute session. Three of the interventions – Brief Intervention, Brief Intervention with Partners, and Motivational Interviewing – led to positive outcomes among specific subgroups of women. Among women who had committed to being abstinent during pregnancy, those assigned to Brief Intervention were significantly more likely to remain abstinent than those in the control group. Women with higher levels of alcohol use before enrolling in Brief Intervention with Partners were significantly more likely to reduce the frequency of their drinking compared to women in the control group. Similarly, women with the highest pre-intervention intoxication levels had lower peak blood alcohol concentration levels two months after completing Motivational Intervention relative to women in the control group. 

Conclusions: For women drinking at low or moderate levels during pregnancy, participating in short-term interventions may be beneficial.

You are free to copy, distribute and transmit this work under the following conditions: You must give attribution to the work (but not in any way that suggests that the author endorses you or your use of the work); You may not use this work for commercial purposes; You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work. Any further uses require the permission of the rights holder (or author if no rights holder is listed). These rights are based on the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License.