Will classism and racism doom FASD prevention efforts?

'Alcohol, Pregnancy, and Racial and Social Class Bias I Psychology Today'

Dr. Ira J. Chasnoff has an interesting piece on the Psychology Today blog called “Alcohol, Pregnancy, and Racial and Social Class Bias.” (December 9, 2014)

Dr. Chasnoff looks at current class and race dynamics in the United States and how they influence the ways women interpret risks related to alcohol consumption during pregnancy and how physicians and other health care providers focus on screening and intervening with certain groups of women only.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that white, college-educated, middle to upper class women are the most likely group to drink during pregnancy. And while research has shown that in many contexts white and African American women use alcohol and illicit drugs at exactly the same rates – physicians still select pregnant women for drug testing based on race and social class – sometimes 10 times more frequently.

Chasnoff comments:

“This is why current prevention campaigns don’t work. These campaigns fail because they focus on informing people about the risk of alcohol use in pregnancy.  However, it is no longer an issue of ignorance; at a cognitive level, most people recognize the potential danger of alcohol use during pregnancy. Prevention efforts fail because the information applies to “them,” not “us.” And as long as attitudes of specialness within middle to upper class men and women hold, as long as physicians continue to deny that alcohol use in pregnancy is a universal problem affecting a significant portion of children across all walks of life in this country, prevention campaigns will continue to fall short.”

 Read the full article on Psychology Today.

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