Alberta’s PCAP Women’s Quilt: “Creating a bond . . . Building a relationship”

PCAP quilt squareParent-Child Assistance Programs (PCAP) are one important approach to FASD prevention in a number of provinces in Canada and the U.S. These programs use a relational, women-centred, strengths-based approach, which is proven to be effective in FASD prevention [1, 2].

As a visual way to express their experiences of mentorship within Alberta’s PCAP program, women came together in workshops across the province to create individual quilt squares for a larger quilt.

The finished quilt, pictured below, captures the hope, resilience, acceptance and connection that participation in the PCAP program has brought them and their children.

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Described as lively, creative, interactive and dynamic, the workshops were held in Calgary, Edmonton and several rural communities; women were supported by their mentors in getting to them. The workshops built connection between women as well as long-term relationships with their children and their mentors.

Developed and researched by Dorothy Badry, Kristin Bonot and Rhonda Delorme, a full description of the project is here.This is the second quilt project from Alberta’s PCAP program; the first quilt was made by mentors (read more about that project here).

To read earlier blogs about FASD primary prevention projects in Canada follow the links below:

The Mother-Child Study

H.E.R. Pregnancy Program

The Mothering Project

HerWay Home Program

FASD Prevention in Saskatchewan

Harm Reduction and Pregnancy

1. Thanh, N.X., et al., An economic evaluation of the parent-child assistance program for preventing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in Alberta, Canada. Adm Policy Ment Health, 2015. 42(1): p. 10-8. View article link
2. Grant, T.M., et al., Preventing alcohol and drug exposed births in Washington state: Intervention findings from three parent-child assistance program sites. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 2005. 31(3): p. 471-490. View PDF

Adverse Childhood Experiences and Alcohol Use during Pregnancy

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Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is a term that describes potentially traumatic events that can have lasting negative effects on health and well-being. Research has shown a clear connection between ACEs on alcohol use and misuse in adults.

An emerging area of research also suggests that a history of childhood stressors, such as physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, may influence alcohol use among pregnant women.

In a recent study, researchers used data from the 2010 Nevada Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to learn more about this relationship. They found a dose–response relationship between ACEs and alcohol use during pregnancy that remained even after controlling for pre-pregnancy drinking and other known factors that influence drinking during pregnancy.

This study contributes to a growing body of research demonstrating that factors affecting alcohol use during pregnancy begin long before pregnancy.

It also suggests the importance of initiatives and movements such as ‘trauma-informed’ practice and their application to FASD prevention. Learn more about trauma-informed practice, alcohol, and pregnancy use on the Coalescing on Women and Substance use website.

For more on this topic, see earlier blog posts:

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References

Astley, S.J., et al. (2000). Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) primary prevention through FAS Diagnosis: II. A comprehensive profile of 80 birth mothers of children with FAS. Alcohol and Alcoholism,  35(5): p. 509-519. [Free full text]

Choi, K.W., Abler, L.A., Watt, M.H., Eaton, L.A., Kalichman, S.C., Skinner, D., Pieterse, D., and Sikkema, K.J. (2014) Drinking before and after pregnancy recognition among South African women: the moderating role of traumatic experiences. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 14: 97. [Free full text]

Chung, E. K., Nurmohamed, L., Mathew, L., Elo, I. T., Coyne, J. C., & Culhane, J. F. (2010). Risky health behaviors among mothers-to-be: The impact of adverse childhood experiences. Academic Pediatrics, 10(4): 245–251. [Free full text]

Frankenberger, D.J., Clements-Nolle, K., Yang, W. (2015). The Association between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Alcohol Use during Pregnancy in a Representative Sample of Adult Women. Women’s Health Issues (epub ahead of print). [Abstract]

Nelson, D. B., Uscher-Pines, L., Staples, S. R., & Ann Grisso, J. (2010). Childhood violence and behavioral effects among urban pregnant women. Journal of Women’s Health, 19(6): 1177–1183. [Abstract]

Skagerstrom, J., Chang, G., & Nilsen, P. (2011). Predictors of drinking during pregnancy: A systematic review. Journal of Women’s Health, 20(6):901–913. [Free full text]

BC Association of Pregnancy Outreach Programs Conference 2015

2015 Conference

The BC Association of Pregnancy Outreach Programs (BCAPOP) is made up of Pregnancy Outreach Programs from across British Columbia.

Pregnancy Outreach Programs provide free prenatal and early parenting support to women who experience health or lifestyle challenges during pregnancy, birth and the transition to parenting. The BCAPOP supports POPs in their work to enhance maternal and infant health for the long-term benefit of communities. Many of the programs work with women who are at high risk of having a child with FASD.

The 19th Annual BCAPOP Conference and Annual General Meeting will be held October 27-29, 2015 in Richmond, BC. The theme of this year’s conference is “Embracing Diversity and Celebrating Inclusion.” Keynote speakers include Diane Malbin who will be talking about “FASD — Normalizing Discomfort and Creating Comfort” and Jessica Ball who will discuss “Ensuring Cultural Safety in Services for Indigenous Children and Families.

Learn more about the conference here.

H.E.R. Pregnancy Program in Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton inner-city program - Aboriginal - CBC'

The Healthy, Empowered and Resilient (H.E.R.) Pregnancy Program in Edmonton, Alberta uses professional staff and peer support workers to reach at-risk pregnant and parenting women in inner city Edmonton. The program, developed by Streetworks, supports street-involved women to access healthcare services before and throughout their pregnancy and address issues such as addiction, poverty and family violence.

CBC News featured the H.E.R. Pregnancy Program last week in the article “Pregnant aboriginal women find ‘world of difference’ in Edmonton inner-city program” (July 27, 2015). Nikki Wiart interviewed staff and clients of the program and learned about the importance of outreach, peer support, and the impact of early engagement with services on pregnancy and parenting outcomes.

90% of the program’s clients are Aboriginal while 50% of the staff is Aboriginal. Morgan Chalifoux, a pregnancy support worker, with the program describes how her personal experiences as a teen mother and living on the streets can make a difference: “”Honestly, if I wasn’t aboriginal, if I didn’t have the experience, if I didn’t use when I was on the street, if I didn’t understand what it was like to have my son threatened to be taken away from me … I wouldn’t be able to have the success that I have now with the clients.”

The program uses a harm reduction approach to addressing alcohol and other substance use during pregnancy. An evaluation of the program found that:

  • 76% of 139 pregnant women who connected with the program reported substance use, typically alcohol (32%), marijuana, and other drugs
  • While connected with the program, women reported elimination of use (40%), safer use (37%), and reduction of substance use (26%) at least once during their pregnancy with the program

The Alberta government has committed to funding the program for another three years as well as developing similar programs in Red Deer and Calgary.

For more on the H.E.R. Pregnancy Program, see earlier posts:

Policing or Supportive? Why We Shouldn’t Test Pregnant Women for Alcohol Use

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Recent research from the UK is sparking discussion about whether routinely testing pregnant women for alcohol use would be helpful.

While the researchers are insisting that binge drinking is ‘prevalent and socially pervasive’ and stronger measures are required, others argue that biological testing is a form of policing women and one that is counteractive in long-run

Sally Peck in her article in The Telegraph says:

“But here’s why we shouldn’t test pregnant women on their alcohol consumption: policing rather than supporting pregnant women fails to prepare them for motherhood.

Instead of imposing prison-style booze tests, let’s talk more about how to help women and men navigate the early years of parenthood, and how to get help when they need it. And let’s make sure that the help we promise – or say that they should have – is actually available to them.”

Research has shown that testing women for alcohol and drug use during pregnancy fails to support women and their babies in the long-run. Women with substance misuse concerns are less likely to seek help from health care providers and avoid prenatal care. And while women in all socio-economic brackets use substances, certain groups of women are unfairly targeted and subject to more invasion of their privacy and are likely to experience adverse outcomes from testing (e.g., child protection reports, custody hearings). As well, routine testing raises ethical issues around consent (e.g., what happens if a mother says she doesn’t want to be tested? Should a health care provider do the test anyway?), women’s autonomy and self-determination, and patient-doctor confidentiality.

Read early posts on the politics and ethics of testing pregnant women for alcohol use:

Smoking and Alcohol Use During Pregnancy: Findings from the Canadian Community Health Survey

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Overall, alcohol and tobacco are the most commonly used drugs during pregnancy in Canada. They are also the two drugs that can be the most harmful to a fetus during pregnancy and in the long-term for babies that are exposed.

New research, using data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2003-2012), takes a closer look at this relationship. Internationally, research has shown that women who smoke are also more likely to drink and vice versa. (One study by Cannon et al showed that 74% of mothers who had a child with FASD also smoked during their pregnancy).

The researchers looked at a national sample of 22,962 women who had given birth in the previous five years. They found that the overall prevalence of smoking during pregnancy in this group of women was 14.3% (of the women who smoked, 52.5% smoked daily and 47.5% smoked occasionally). The prevalence was the lowest in British Columbia at 9.0% and the highest in the territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut combined) at 39.9%.

They found that:

  • Women who smoked during pregnancy were more likely to be younger, single, white/non-immigrants, and have a lower income.
  • Women who smoked during pregnancy were more likely to drink while pregnant. Women who were daily or occasional smokers during pregnancy were 2.54 and 2.71, respectively, times more likely to have consumed alcohol during pregnancy as compared to non-smokers.
  • Women who had a lifetime history of smoking, but who did not smoke during pregnancy, were also more likely to have consumed alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Binge drinking was the only factor that had a relationship to whether women used alcohol, smoked or used both during pregnancy.

These findings suggest the importance of public health interventions that address alcohol use and smoking together both before and during pregnancy.

References

Bailey, B.A., McCook, JG., Hodge, A. and McGrady, L. (2012). Infant birth outcomes among substance using women: why quitting smoking during pregnancy is just as important as quitting harder drugs. Matern Child Health J, 16:414–422.

Cannon, M.J., Dominique, Y., O’Leary, L.A., Sniezek, J.E., & Floyd, R.L. (2012). Characteristics and behaviors of mothers who have a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 34: 90–95.

Janisse, J.J., Bailey, B.A., Ager, J., and Sokol, R.J. (2014). Alcohol, Tobacco, Cocaine, and Marijuana Use: Relative Contributions to Preterm Delivery and Fetal Growth Restriction. Substance Abuse, 35(1): 60-67, DOI: 10.1080/08897077.2013.804483

Lange, S., Probst, C., Quere, M., Rehm, J., Popova, S. (2015). Alcohol use, smoking and their co-occurrence during pregnancy among Canadian women, 2003 to 2011/12. Addictive Behaviors, 50: 102–109.

Impact Evaluation Findings from Project Choices in Manitoba

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Project CHOICES is a program in Winnipeg, Manitoba, that works with girls and women of any age who are not currently pregnant, drink alcohol, and are sexually active. The goal of the program is to reduce the risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy through choosing healthy behaviours around alcohol and birth control use.

This infographic summarizes changes for participants three months after completing the program.

Project CHOICES is based on motivational interviewing which is a counseling approach that is respectful, non-judgmental and client-centred. Motivational interviewing allows health care providers and clients to explore possible areas of change, discuss strategies that make sense for the client and their life circumstances, and provides encouragement and support.

The program considers three different routes to reducing the risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy: (1) reducing alcohol use (2) using effective contraception (3) reducing alcohol use and using effective contraception.

Learn more about the evaluation from Healthy Child Manitoba. Check out the program website to learn more about the program, how to make a referral, and for resources on alcohol, pregnancy and birth control.

word on the street

“Serge and Denis present pregnancy and drinking”: video from Éduc’alcool

This video from Éduc’alcool, an independent, not-for-profit organization in Quebec, has two key messages:

  • Éduc’alcool recommends that women refrain from drinking from the moment they decide to become pregnant.
  • Éduc’alcool recommends that women refrain from drinking during pregnancy.

The Éduc’alcool website also includes a “Pregnancy and drinking: your questions answered” section.

FASD prevention needs to begin before pregnancy: findings from the US National Survey of Family Growth

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Most interventions and programs to prevent alcohol use during pregnancy focus on encouraging pregnant women to abstain from alcohol use. However, one of the most consistent predictors of alcohol use during pregnancy is women’s drinking patterns before pregnancy. As well, a large majority of women have been drinking alcohol for many years prior to getting pregnant.

A recent journal article published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal (April 2015) looks at data from the National Survey of Family Growth in the United States to estimate the number of women during a one month period who are at risk of having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. (An “alcohol-exposed pregnancy” means that a woman is drinking alcohol, sexually active and not using contraception).

The study found that during a one-month period, nearly 2 million women in the United States were at risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy, including 600,000 who were binge drinking. This translates to 3.4%, or 1 in 30, non-pregnant women being at risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.

Interestingly, being at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy was not clearly associated with most demographic and behavioral characteristics (e.g., income level, tobacco use, ethnicity, education level, etc).

That said, women in this study who were planning to get pregnant were the ones who were at highest risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy – because they often continue to drink until they find our they are pregnant (and thus exposing the fetus to alcohol for several weeks or even months).

As a recent report on alcohol use in OECD countries describes how rates of alcohol use (including binge drinking) continue to rise in young women in many parts of the world. This suggests the importance of strategies to improve women’s overall health in relation to alcohol (e.g., emphasizing a culture of moderation with low risk drinking guidelines) and FASD prevention activities that target alcohol and contraception use prior to pregnancy and in the preconception period.

 Reference

Cannon, M.J., Guo, J., Denny, C.H., Green, P.P., Miracle, H., Sniezek, J.E., Floyd, R.L. (2015). Prevalence and Characteristics of Women at Risk for an Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancy (AEP) in the United States: Estimates from the National Survey of Family Growth. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 19:776–782. DOI 10.1007/s10995-014-1563-3.

The Mothering Project/Manito Ikwe Kagiikwe in Winnipeg, Manitoba

cbc mothering project

Manito Ikwe Kagiikwe (The Mothering Project), located at Mount Carmel Clinic in Winnipeg’s North End, provides prenatal care, parenting and child development support, group programming, advocacy, and addiction support for vulnerable pregnant women and new mothers.

CBC News interviewed Stephanie Wesley and Margaret Bryans about the program earlier this week. Bryans, a nurse and program manager at Manito Ikwe Kagiikwe, discusses the successes of the program since it first opened two years ago. The article focuses on the importance of supportive relationships and the value of a ‘focus on kindness’: “Women who are pregnant, who are using drugs and alcohol are one of the most stigmatized groups in our community.” (The Mothering Project aims to break cycle of addiction, CBC News, April 28, 2015).

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The program is a wonderful example of a integrated and holistic pregnancy program for women with addiction and related concerns. The program is based on principles of harm reduction. (Learn more about harm reduction and similar programs in this booklet, Harm Reduction and Pregnancy: Community-based Approaches to Prenatal Substance Use in Western Canada).

Since the program opened two years ago, 49 women have participated. Early evaluation findings show that, at the beginning of the program, 100% of women were actively using substances, 97% had never completed a substance use treatment program and 56% did not have a prenatal health care provider. Over the course of the program, 36% stopped using alcohol and drugs, 47% reduced their use, 39% attended an addiction treatment facility and 100% accessed prenatal care. Over half of mothers have been able to take their babies home with them from the hospital. Check out the infographic below for more.

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