For Health Professionals Treating Women – What You Need to Know About Alcohol During Pregnancy

Most of you are familiar with the statistic that 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned. This can result in a woman harming her baby through alcohol consumption before she even knows she is pregnant. Indiana NOFAS supports increasing the proportion of women who plan their pregnancies and engage in healthy behaviors before becoming pregnant to reduce the incidence of prenatal alcohol exposure. Prevention of unintended pregnancies is one of the single most important, cost-effective initiatives that will help reduce FASD in Indiana.

Ask Every Woman Every Time About Pregnancy and Explain Problems Associated with Alcohol

Indiana NOFAS encourages all primary care health care providers to routinely ask every woman at every visit including pregnancy, pre-conceptual, and well-woman visits, if they plan to become pregnant in the next year. Their response then triggers a doctor-patient discussion that can keep the woman healthier, help eliminate health disparities, and save tax payer dollars.

If the woman answers “yes”, the health care provider can offer counseling and resources to ensure that her future pregnancy is as healthy as possible. This includes information about the risk of drinking alcohol while pregnant.

If she does not intend to become pregnant, the health care provider can start a conversation about the full range of contraception options available to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.

And if she is uncertain, she can be encouraged to take preventative measures until she is sure. Over 85% of couples not using contraceptives will become pregnant the next year, whether they intend to or not. Thus, it is important for them to know the effects of alcohol on a developing baby.

Screening every woman every time helps put reproductive health front and center as part of primary health care, and provides an opportunity for women to be more prepared for pregnancy and be as healthy as possible during and after pregnancy. This also reduces the chance of women consuming alcohol before they know they are pregnant.

For More Information

For more information or technical assistance on implementing screening protocols in a prenatal setting, please contact us directly using this form.