“State Policies Targeting Alcohol Use during Pregnancy and Alcohol Use among Pregnant Women 1985–2016: Evidence from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System” won the Charles E. Gibbs Leadership Prize for the best paper published in Women’s Health Issues in 2019.
Authored by Sarah CM Roberts, Amy A. Mericle, Meenakshi S. Subbaraman, Sue Thomas, Ryan D. Treffers, Kevin L. Delucchi, and William C. Kerr used data on pregnant women’s alcohol use to examine the relationship between alcohol use and two kinds of state policies:
1) supportive policies, such as mandatory warning signs, priority substance abuse treatment for pregnant women, and prohibitions on criminal prosecution of those who disclose alcohol use during pregnancy, and
2) punitive policies, such as civil commitment of those using alcohol while pregnant, mandatory reporting to Child Protective Services, and considering alcohol use during pregnancy to be a form of child abuse or neglect.
The authors found that, in contrast to the intent of such policies, both supportive and punitive policy environments were associated with increased odds of any alcohol use during pregnancy.
They caution, “These findings do not indicate that there is a set of evidence-based policies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy that policymakers should adopt … new policy approaches may be needed to meaningfully decrease alcohol use during pregnancy and related public health harms.”
Women’s Health Issues is the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. Says Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Health Issues, Amita Vyas: “We hope lawmakers will pay attention to their findings and consider that policies intended to reduce alcohol consumption during pregnancy might cause harm while failing to achieve their stated goals.”
Source: Roberts, Sarah CM, Amy A. Mericle, Meenakshi S. Subbaraman, Sue Thomas, Ryan D. Treffers, Kevin L. Delucchi, and William C. Kerr. “State policies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy and alcohol use among pregnant women 1985–2016: evidence from the behavioral risk factor surveillance system.” Women’s Health Issues 29, no. 3 (2019): 213-221.