FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME AMONG NATIVE AMERICAN POPULATIONS
Native American women of child-bearing age, as a group, are at risk because of the disproportionate consumption of alcohol among these women. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been found to be an important factor in the development of many problems in later life for infants born with fetal alcohol syndrome. This research focuses on risk reduction for fetal alcohol syndrome among Native Americans.
Enhanced Risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Among Native Americans
The infant mortality rate for Native-Americans is higher than that of European-Americans, and one of the contributing factors is alcohol abuse among pregnant Native-American women. Young Native-Americans indulge in higher levels of alcohol consumption than any other racial or ethnic population group in the United States (Markey & Stone, 1997).
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) also affects a much higher proportion of Native-American babies because of higher rates of maternal alcoholism, with FAS standing at a level six times that of the general population) (Kelley, 1992). Because almost 20 percent of Native-American newborns suffer from FAS, massive alcohol education and prevention efforts have been mounted in Native-American communities. Some tribal programs have had more success than governmental programs in the process of reducing prenatal drinking among Native-American pregnant women. However, the fact that there is high acceptance of drinking in Native-American communities has limited the effectiveness of these programs (Ma, Toubbeh, Cline, & Chisholm, 1998).
Efforts to Reduce FAS Risk Among Native Americans
Public Law 100-713, Amendments to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, requires the Indian Health Service (IHS) to document the FAS incidence rate among Native-American populations and to achieve a rate of one per 1,000 live births or less, a requirement fully consistent with the Na...