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Preventing prenatal alcohol exposure

Date created
Author: Schwartz, C.
Author: Waddell, C.
Author: Barican, J.
Author: Garland, O.
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.
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.
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