Belly Up to the Bar and Get a Free…Pregnancy Test?

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

An Alaskan nonprofit group hopes female bar patrons will be enticed to do the “responsible thing” and avoid alcohol consumption now that many of these establishments offer free pregnancy tests in their bathrooms.

That’s right; Alaska proudly welcomed 20 pregnancy test dispensers last month – each one bound for various bathroom installation sites around the state.

What’s the Method to the Madness?

The $40,000 program, appropriately dubbed Think Before You Drink, is under the direction of the University of Alaska, Anchorage.

Healthy Brains for Children, based in Minnesota, has worked since 2012 to increase awareness about the devastating effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol and to “promote the healthy practice of refraining from drinking alcohol during pregnancies,” according to its website.

Alaska’s Alcohol Woes

The pregnancy tests are being used in hopes of curbing the frighteningly prevalent problem of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) in Alaska. The state leads the nation in number of babies born with FAS. According to statistics, approximately 180 babies are born with brain damage and growth problems.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 20 percent of Alaskan women of child-bearing age are more likely to binge drink than the national average. Binge drinking for women is defined as four or more drinks in one occurrence.

The pregnancy tests are being used in hopes of curbing the frighteningly prevalent problem of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) in Alaska.

FAS Facts

Signs and symptoms often associated with FAS include:

  • Low birth weight
  • Small head circumference
  • Failure to thrive
  • Developmental delay
  • Organ dysfunction
  • Facial abnormalities, including smaller eye openings, flattened cheekbones, and indistinct philtrum (an underdeveloped groove between the nose and the upper lip)
  • Epilepsy
  • Poor coordination/fine motor skills
  • Poor socialization skills, such as difficulty building and maintaining friendships and relating to groupsLack of imagination or curiosity
  • Learning difficulties, including poor memory, inability to understand concepts such as time and money, poor language comprehension, poor problem-solving skills
  • Behavioral problems, including hyperactivity, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, stubbornness, impulsiveness, and anxiety

“FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder)… is probably the most significant socio-medical problem of our society as it affects so many innocent individuals, families and communities. It is completely preventable, but for those already here, we have to do everything to minimize their life’s challenges,” said FASD expert and researcher Dr. Ted Rosales.

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