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 may 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 elevated in comparison to that for European-Americans. One of the contributing factors is alcohol abuse among pregnant Native-American women. Young Native-Americans are characterized by higher levels of alcohol consumption than any other racial or ethnic population group in the United States (Markey & Stone, 1997).
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) affects a much higher proportion of Native-American babies (six-times more than the general population) because of higher rates of maternal alcoholism (Kelley, 1992). Because almost 20 percent of some Native-American newborns are afflicted with 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 reducing prenatal drinking among Native-American pregnant women, but acceptance of drinking in Native-American communities has limited their effectiveness (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 and achieve an FAS incidence rate among Native-American populations of one per 1,000 live births or less. This requirement is consistent with the National Health Objectives for the Year 2000, as well as the objectives of the...