Special Considerations for Women

Women of Childbearing Age- Recommendations

A woman's body is different from a man's. Women can have a stronger reaction to alcohol and other drugs. In fact, many women get addicted faster than men and can die sooner than men from drug or unhealthy alcohol use. Studies show that women who had 1 or 2 drinks a day increased their risk of breast cancer by 10 percent; those who had 3 drinks a day increased that risk even more.

If a woman becomes pregnant, alcohol and drugs could harm her baby too. Women who drink while pregnant may have babies with developmental delays or disabilities or increased risk of premature birth.

More information about screening women of childbearing age

FASD Information and Resources

"Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders” (FASD) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with lifelong implications. If women do not drink alcohol during pregnancy, FASD is 100 percent preventable.

Visit the MA FASD State Coordination page, SAMHSA's FASD Center of Excellence or CDC's FASD website for more information. 

STAT published an article in May 2016 that describes the impact of FASD in adults: He stumbled on a hidden epidemic of brain damage. The culprit? Alcohol.

The CDC put out a resource about preventing neonatal abstinence syndrome and collaborative for alcohol free pregnancy: partnering for practice change.  

Surgeon General Richard Carmona’s Advisory on Alcohol Use in Pregnancy — February 2005

  • A pregnant woman should not drink alcohol during pregnancy.
  • A pregnant woman who has already consumed alcohol during her pregnancy should stop in order to minimize further risk.
  • A woman who is considering becoming pregnant should abstain from alcohol.
  • Recognizing that nearly half of all births in the United States are unplanned, women of childbearing age should consult their physician and take steps to reduce the possibility of prenatal alcohol exposure.
  • Health professionals should inquire routinely about alcohol consumption by women of childbearing age, inform them of the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and advise them not to drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy.

SAMSHA resources

SAMHSA FASD Prevention Fact Sheet

SAMHSA's Data Spotlight released in September 2013 reports that 18% of pregnant women drink alcohol during early pregnancy

Massachusetts FASD resources

For more information about Massachusetts FASD resources, go to MA FASD State Coordination

The Massachusetts FASD Taskforce has worked to engage key stakeholders, including families, to identify needs and advocate for strategic priorities to advance this topic in meaningful ways. massFAS was developed as a result of much of this work with the goal to educate citizens and legislators on the need for a Massachusetts Legislative FASD commission and to determine the prevalence, needs, and resources to serve individuals and families impacted by prenatal alcohol exposure. Visit the massFAS webpage at www.massFAS.org to find out more and get involved.