Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) primary prevention through fas diagnosis: II. A comprehensive profile of 80 birth mothers of children with FAS

Alcohol Alcohol. 2000 Sep-Oct;35(5):509-19. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/35.5.509.


A 5-year, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) primary prevention study was conducted in Washington State to: (1) assess the feasibility of using a FAS diagnostic and prevention clinic as a centre for identifying and targeting primary prevention intervention to high-risk women; (2) generate a comprehensive, lifetime profile of these women; (3) identify factors that have enhanced and/or hindered their ability to achieve abstinence. The results of this study are presented in two parts. Objective 1 is summarized in the preceding paper and objectives 2 and 3 are summarized here. Comprehensive interviews were conducted with 80 women, who had given birth to a child diagnosed with FAS, to document their sociodemographics, reproductive and family planning history, social and healthcare utilization patterns, adverse social experiences, social support network, alcohol use and treatment history, mental health, and intelligence quotient (IQ). These high-risk women were diverse in racial, educational and economic backgrounds, were often victims of abuse, and challenged by mental health issues. Despite their rather harsh psychosocial profile, many demonstrated the ability to overcome their alcohol dependence over time. Relative to the women who had not achieved abstinence, the women who had achieved abstinence had significantly higher IQs, higher household incomes, larger more satisfactory social support networks, were more likely to report a religious affiliation, and were more likely to be receiving mental health treatment for their mental health disorders. The rate of unintended pregnancies and alcohol-exposed pregnancies was substantial. Key barriers to achieving effective family planning were maternal alcohol and drug use, lack of access to birth control and lack of support by their partner to use birth control. A FAS diagnostic and prevention clinic can be used to identify women at high risk for producing children damaged by prenatal alcohol exposure. Primary prevention programmes targeted to this population could lead to measurable reductions in the incidence of FAS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Battered Women / psychology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Family Planning Services*
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / diagnosis
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Maternal-Child Health Centers
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Temperance / psychology*