Last week, the Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women of the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists released an opinion paper on screening women for alcohol use. (See the report on MedPage Today, Screen All Women for Alcohol Use, ACOG Says, July 21, 2011, Todd Neale).

The Committee recommended that all women who see an obgyn should be screened for alcohol use. For pregnant women and women at risk of becoming pregnant, “it is important for the obstetrician-gynecologist to give compelling and clear advice to avoid alcohol use, provide assistance for achieving abstinence,  or provide effective contraception to women who need help.”

I thought it was great the recommendation to screen all women, pregnant or not, came from an awareness of the broad range of possible negative effects of alcohol use and that at-risk alcohol use affects women differently – not just from a concern with the possible effects on the fetus. They also comment on the importance of obgyns developing a relationship with women: “It may take a number of offers before the patient is ready to accept a treatment referral. The patient’s trust in her medical provider may be key in taking the step toward treatment.”

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada released clinical guidelines last summer on Alcohol Use and Pregnancy which can be downloaded from their web site. The SOGC recommends alcohol screening for all pregnant women and women of childbearing age.

References

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2011). Committee Opinion No. 496: At-Risk Drinking and Alcohol Dependence: Obstetric and Gynecologic ImplicationsObstetrics & Gynecology: 118 (2, Part 1): 383-388. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31822c9906

Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. (2010). Alcohol Use and Pregnancy Consensus Clinical Guidelines. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 32(8): S1-S32.