A Trial of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Prevention in American Indian Communities

The University of New Mexico Center on alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA) was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to undertake research that measured the effectiveness of a comprehensive, reservation/community-wide Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (AS) prevention program based on the public health model. The program built on NIAAAA-funded research that had already begun in four American Indian communities measuring the adult prevalence of drinking, the prevalence and epidemiological characteristics of FAS, and the maternal risk factors that lead to FAS in each community.

This project implemented and evaluated the comprehensive prevention model recommended by IOM in 1996 using strategies designed to reach people at different levels of risk in a culturally appropriate and sensitive manner. All staff was trained in Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA) methods for the prevention trial. Indicated prevention was carried out with the women at the highest risk of producing a child with FAS. Selective prevention was done through prenatal clinics to target the children in each community who were of child-bearing age, and Universal prevention activities were ongoing in each site by promoting general health and alcohol-free pregnancies through community lectures, pamphlets, posters, press releases, slides, public service radio announcements, fact sheets, etc.