A recent study published in Substance Abuse, Treatment and Policy explores the relationship between maternal risk factors for FASD and risk factors for experiencing psychological distress more generally in “the landscapes of American Indian women of the Plains.”

The study demonstrates that the risk factors for psychosocial stress, such as high rates of female-headed households, large families, lower high school graduation rates, the greater likelihood of living below the poverty level, fair or poor health status, and an elevated lifetime risk of traumatic interpersonal violence, are the same risk factors for high levels of alcohol use during pregnancy.

The authors comment on how a broader understanding of the relationship between these factors may suggest different routes for FASD prevention:

“While we emphasize the role of PD [psychological distress] as an important consideration for the prevention of maternal drinking, we also point out that the readiness of accessible, effective treatment for depression, anxiety, and stress does not correspond to the women’s well-documented need…. For tribal and other communities that are seeking solutions to maternal drinking, including clearly defined goals and programming for female educational achievement and occupational opportunity may increase the benefits of their FASD prevention efforts and policy.”

Substance Abuse, Treatment and Policy is an open access journal and the full-text for the article can be viewed here.


Parker, T., Maviglia, M.A., Lewis, P.T., Gossage, J.P., May, P.A. (2010). Psychological Distress among Plains Indian mothers with children referred to screening for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Substance Abuse, Treatment and Policy, 5(2): epub 2010 Sept 6. DOI: 10.1186/1747-597X-5-22. Full-text.