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Am J Public Health. 2007 Feb;97(2):252-8. Epub 2006 Dec 28.

Brief intervention for alcohol use by pregnant women.

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Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.



We examined the efficacy of brief intervention as a technique to help pregnant women achieve abstinence from alcohol. A second aim was to assess newborn outcomes as a function of brief intervention.


Two hundred fifty-five pregnant women who were participants in the Public Health Foundation Enterprises Management Solutions Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and who reported drinking alcohol were assigned to an assessment-only or a brief intervention condition and followed to their third trimester of pregnancy. Brief intervention consisted of 10- to 15-minute sessions of counseling by a nutritionist, who used a scripted manual to guide the intervention. Newborn outcomes of gestation, birth-weight, birth length, and viability were assessed.


Women in the brief intervention condition were 5 times more likely to report abstinence after intervention compared with women in the assessment-only condition. Newborns whose mothers received brief intervention had higher birthweights and birth lengths, and fetal mortality rates were 3 times lower (0.9%) compared with newborns in the assessment-only (2.9%) condition.


The success of brief intervention conducted in a community setting by nonmedical professionals has significant implications for national public health policies.

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