Concord, NH The NH Alcohol and other Drug Service Providers Association has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the March of Dimes New England Chapter to conduct trainings for prenatal care providers in an effort to reduce fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. According to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NO FAS), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) affects 1 in 100 live births or as many as 40,000 infants each year. That is more than Spina Bifida, Down Syndrome and Muscular Dystrophy combined
The NH Providers Association represents a network of substance use disorder service organizations and professionals. In recent years, the organization has seen an immense need to ensure adequate substance use prevention education across disciplines in the healthcare sector. The NH Providers Association will be working with the NH chapter of NO FAS to conduct trainings for prenatal care providers related to prevention of FASD’s and intervention for at-risk patients. “This project is the first of its kind in New Hampshire and we are eager to begin working towards developing a long standing relationship between prenatal care providers and the substance use disorder experts in their communities,” said Abby Shockley, Executive Director of the NH Providers Association.
Andrea Mächt, NO FAS NH Board of Directors Chair, shares “a primary mission of NO FAS NH is that we strive to support a workforce trained and able to act on their understanding of the effects of prenatal alcohol use with the people they serve. Women throughout New Hampshire rely on and trust the advice of providers, it is imperative that this advice is accurate and consistent especially regarding the risk of alcohol use during pregnancy. We are very pleased to be working collaboratively with NH Providers to provide these trainings.”
Pregnancy is a moment in a woman’s life when behavior change is most likely. Most medical schools don’t spend much time, if at all, talking about FASD’s and with New Hampshire’s high rates of alcohol and drug use, it is imperative that pregnant women be screened for alcohol use during pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “there is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink and no safe kind of alcohol.”
This is the first time that a project of this nature has existed in New Hampshire and the NH Providers Association is hopeful that this will be a model for future projects for additional training opportunities for the medical profession that address illicit drug use during pregnancy.
The one year project begins implementation in February and includes in-person trainings, online education components and dissemination of educational materials for offices and patient education packets.