Computer Screening Helps Identify Risk of Fetal Alcohol Exposure

May 16, 2005

Women "tend to deny" drinking during pregnancy when asked directly by their physician, but screening using a new software system can make a significant difference in identifying women who consume alcohol while pregnant, said Margaret Rodan, MD, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., at the PAS 2005 Annual Meeting. Health-care providers can then target those women for intervention.

Women "tend to deny" drinking during pregnancy when asked directly by their physician, but screening using a new software system can make a significant difference in identifying women who consume alcohol while pregnant, said Margaret Rodan, MD, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., at the PAS 2005 Annual Meeting. Health-care providers can then target those women for intervention.

Using the audio computer-assisted self interviewing (A-CASI) tool, women were screened in waiting rooms as they came for health appointments. The software required no computer skills and was available for both English and Spanish speaking women. A total of 1,064 low-income minority women between the ages of 18 to 45 years old participated in the study. An answer of any alcohol use placed pregnant women at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS); an answer of more than seven drinks per week placed non-pregnant women of childbearing age in the at-risk category.

When compared with a control group of women who visited the same clinics in previous years, the number of women who were identified as being at risk increased: from 6.4% in the control group to 17.9% of women screened using A-CASI. Dr. Rodan noted that the A-CASI tool is inexpensive, had minimal technical limitations, and is easy to obtain. (Platform Session 5148)