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Competency 4: Prevention

Role of Men and Significant Others in FASD Prevention

To date, no FASD cases have been documented without maternal drinking or resulting from paternal drinking alone.25 Thus, the emphasis on the role of men in preventing FASD, is on encouraging male partners to help pregnant women avoid alcohol. Friends and family members can help as well. Several Canadian researchers have explored this issue and offer suggestions for involving men.26


Men become fathers in the context of a relationship and can have a serious influence on maternal drinking. A number of social risk factors associated with maternal alcohol use in pregnancy are attributed to the women's male partners26,27:

  • Men can play a critical role in preventing FASD by helping to prevent pregnancy in women who drink alcohol. According to one preconception study, 45 percent of women surveyed reported consuming alcohol 3 months prior to finding out they were pregnant.28 Although most women stop or reduce alcohol use when they learn they are pregnant, more than half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended.29 Involving male partners in family planning can reduce the risk of an unplanned pregnancy and the use of alcohol before the woman finds out she is pregnant.
  • Men can also support an alcohol-free environment. Paternal drinking is a risk factor for maternal drinking.26,27 Male partners who oppose the mother’s plan to stop drinking make it harder for women to avoid alcohol.
  • Another factor in maternal drinking is the nature of the couple’s relationship. “Paternal substance abuse may heighten the social stressors impinging on both mother and child.”27
  • The level of commitment in a relationship is another factor associated with maternal drinking. Marital status is a significant predictor of drinking during pregnancy. Single women are more likely to drink than are married women.30
  • Physical and sexual abuse are risk factors for women drinking when pregnant.30

Fathers also need to encourage alcohol-free pregnancies in their daughters. Most young women who quit or reduce their drinking during pregnancy have been encouraged by others, specifically parents or mentors, to avoid alcohol use during their pregnancies.31

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