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Key DFM Personnel

Georgiana Wilton, PhD – Principal Investigator
Kristi Obmascher, BS – Prevention Manager
Lyric Dold, MA, MS, LPC – Interventionist
Angela Cappas-Awes, BS – Research Specialist


Wisconsin leads the nation in reported drinking among women of childbearing age. According to the Wisconsin Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (2001 BRFSS Data) 24 percent of Wisconsin women aged 18 – 44 binge drink (4 or more drinks per occasion), and 32 percent of pregnant women drink alcohol during pregnancy. Each year approximately 150 – 200 Wisconsin babies are negatively affected by prenatal alcohol exposure.

Alcohol use during pregnancy is a leading, preventable cause of mental retardation in the United States. Maternal use can result in a range of permanent physical, cognitive, and/or behavioral problems. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is the umbrella term used to describe these effects. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most recognizable condition caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Individuals with FAS have cognitive impairments, intrauterine and/or ongoing growth retardation, and specific measurable facial features. Other diagnoses associated with drinking during pregnancy include partial FAS, alcohol-related neurodevelopmenal disorder (ARND), and alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD). Some terms previously used, such as fetal alcohol effects (FAE) are no longer used.

Project Abstract

The Wisconsin FASD Prevention and Intervention Project (PIP) is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is a partnership between the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (Department of Family Medicine and Population Health Institute) and the State of Wisconsin. The Project targets a nine-county region in southeastern Wisconsin- Dane, Jefferson, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha. Project goals include the following:

  1. Increase awareness and provide education about the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy;
  2. Conduct a nine-county fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) surveillance initiative;
  3. Prevent alcohol-exposed pregnancies via brief counseling with women of childbearing age before they become pregnant; and
  4. Identify/assess children at risk for FASD and link them to appropriate services.

Project Activities

1) Community Intervention: The project raises awareness, provides education, and conducts outreach about FASD and related issues. Activities include providing a range of educational programs for health and human services providers, educators, students, families affected by FASD; disseminating project materials including an informational ‘woman and alcohol’ brochure and FASD Fact Sheet; and staffing a toll-free information line for women of childbearing age as well as health and human services providers. Outreach efforts include distributing informational posters to clinics and social services agencies; and staffing information booths at community events.

2) Individual Intervention: The project works with clinics, health and social services agencies, and educational and community venues to identify women at-risk of giving birth to a child with FASD (e.g., at-risk drinking, no contraception use). The efficacy of a brief intervention model is being tested with the goal of reducing alcohol consumption and/or increasing contraception use among women at risk.

3) Identification and Assessment of children at risk for FASD: The project works with the Family Empowerment Network (FEN) to identify children at risk of FASD, provide referral to diagnostic services, and support children diagnosed with FASD and their families.

4) FAS Surveillance: As a bona fide agent of the State of Wisconsin, the project is implementing a surveillance protocol to identify children who meet a case definition for FAS.

What can Health Care Providers do to Address FASD?

Talk to your patients-especially women between the ages of 18 – 44 about alcohol use and pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has more information about talking to patients about alcohol, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Talk to your patients-especially women between the ages of 18 – 44 about preconceptional health and planning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Preconception Care Initiative has more information on family planning for consumers and professionals, including links to additional resources.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also has more information on family planning including tools for providers.

Refer your at-risk patients to alcohol assessment, counseling, and/or treatment. Call the Healthy Choices Project for more information or for referral sources for brief alcohol interventions or substance abuse treatment programs.

For more information contact us toll-free at: 1-800-752-3157 or

For more information please check out our “Pregnancy and Alcohol” Web site for women with questions about alcohol, pregnancy and prevention.