How Partners Can Help to Try and Prevent FASD

Other people have a strong influence on women’s substance use.

Recognizing that there are many things that can cause women to drink while pregnant, especially the role of their partners, is important for making and delivering programs to prevent FASD. Most of the work to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) has been done with women and girls in mind. But because partners have a big impact on how much women use alcohol, health and social service providers should broaden their focus to include interventions that reach and involve partners in preconception health and pregnancy planning, as well as helpful changes in alcohol use and relational support during pregnancy. These interventions can work together with those already in place for women and girls to help both partners before and during pregnancy.

Pregnancy outcomes are better with preconception care, partners are better prepared to become parents, and pregnant women have better reproductive health. If both partners are actively engaged in preconception health, they can significantly limit or abstain from alcohol usage altogether. Some women may not feel safe participating in combination interventions that include their spouses, despite the fact that brief interventions like alcohol behavioural couples therapy can decrease alcohol use and improve relationship functioning. Women should determine for themselves if their spouses will be involved.

Future efforts to reduce the prevalence of FASD must place greater attention on the role that partners play in shaping maternal substance use. In order to improve maternal health outcomes and strengthen relationships, it is important that both partners have access to individualized and couple-based interventions.

People of all ages can benefit from an assessment for a diagnosis of FASD. Referral of individuals (across the lifespan) for an FASD assessment should be made whenever there is evidence of or suspected prenatal alcohol exposure at levels associated with physical, developmental, or behavioural effects. Contact NEAFAN.