• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 20s

Free pregnancy tests in bars an effort to curb Alaska’s FASD rates

By KTVA Alaska Photojournalist: Jared Mazurek - 11:23 PM June 20, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

Free pregnancy tests in bars?

It’s a notion that’s thrust Alaska into the national spotlight.

“It’s just an unusual conversation and unusual approach. It’s caught people’s attention,” said Janet Johnston with the University of Alaska Anchorage Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies.

Alaska has a unique and alarming relationship with alcohol and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, according to Johnston.

“Alaska has the highest prevalence of FASD,” Johnston said. “This may also have to do with the fact that we also have high rates of drinking among women of child-bearing age.”

Considering those rates, Johnston says it made sense for the Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies to try a different approach in attempt to curb those figures. Enter free pregnancy tests in Alaska bars.

“I think of it almost as a teaching moment,” Johnston said. “If someone is drinking at a bar and they see the test, they may just think about it a little more. Also if someone takes the test and finds out they’re pregnant, that hopefully will also have an effect on their drinking.”

Johnston says the point of this study is to find out what will send the clearest message to women who might be drinking when they shouldn’t. So, in some bars and restaurants, researchers will be setting up posters with warning messages to deter possibly pregnant women from drinking.

In other bars, they’ll set up pregnancy test dispensers along with those warnings.  Researchers will ask women who see the posters and dispensers to fill out surveys and the Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies will use that data to see which method makes the greatest impact.

Some that question the purpose and method of this study say girls’ night out might not be the best time for a woman to find out she’s pregnant. But mother of two Chelsea Shipley says knowing as soon as possible helped her to avoid the risk of FASD.

“With my first child, I was actually with a group of friends who were drinking and I was late and I wasn’t sure if I should be drinking or not,” Shipley said. “I took [the pregnancy test] in the bathroom while everyone was out in the room partying and I took it out and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m positive.’”

With her own experience, coupled with 15 years of working in Anchorage bars, Shipley says the pregnancy test dispensers could be just what Alaska’s unsuspecting mothers need.

“It’s worth a try because if it helps one woman, it’s helping the baby,” Shipley said.

The pregnancy test dispensers will start appearing in bars and restaurants in December. Researchers expect to have the results of their study within two years.

In the meantime, the Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies says they will offer free counseling to women who test positive.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Mat-Su School District temporarily bans military recruitment

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 21, 15:22

    The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District has temporarily banned military recruitment from the district’s schools. This announcement follows the Anchorage School District’s ban of all military recruiters after the recent reports of alleged misconduct by Alaska Army National Guard recruiters on school campuses. In a release from the Mat-Su Borough School District, Dr. Deena M. Paramo publicized the change […]

  • Lifestyle

    Anchorage conducts survey on homelessness

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 21, 14:23

    Anchorage residents can voice their opinion in a survey about homelessness in the municipality. The results of the survey will be used as an informational source as officials work toward developing a five-year plan on how to end homelessness, according to a press release. Groups involved in the plan are the Anchorage Department of Health and […]

  • Crime

    Police seek armed robbery suspect, stolen truck

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 21, 13:14

    Police say they are looking for a suspect and a stolen truck after an early morning robbery in South Anchorage. The victim told police she was trying to find a parking spot at an apartment complex on the 1700 block of Lore Road around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday when she was approached by a handgun-wielding woman, […]

  • On-Air

    ‘Edge of Alaska’ star discusses life in McCarthy

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 21, 11:34

    Located at the foothills of the Wrangell Mountains, 65 miles west of the Yukon Territory border is a place once known as a sinful getaway for the workers of nearby Kennecott. McCarthy, according to the 2010 census, has only 28 yearly residents. This remote location is the setting of a new reality show hitting airwaves on […]

  • Crime

    Man fleeing police arrested outside Juneau school after hit-and-run

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 21, 11:10

    A driver trying to dodge police was arrested after a crash near a Juneau high school Monday. Jose Angel Munoz, 42, was arrested after a collision with an 82-year-old driver, according to a press release from the Juneau Police Department. He was wanted on a warrant issued Sept. 26 for drug and felony driving-under-the-influence charges. […]

  • Sports

    UAA volleyball setter receives GNAC Player of the Week honors

    by KTVA Sports on Oct 21, 10:22

    No surprise … another honor for the UAA volleyball team. Sophomore setter Morgan Hooe is the GNAC Volleyball Offensive Player of the Week.

  • On-Air

    Travel Tuesday: Airfare 9-1-1

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 21, 10:07

    Airfare 9-1-1 alert: feuding airlines means airfare drops for you! Get those carry-ons ready, Daybreak’s travel guru Scott McMurren is back on the couch with some deals you just can’t refuse. McMurren says if the first snowfall of the year has you thinking about getting away, there’s no better time than now. Anchorage to Houston […]

  • Sports

    UAA hockey heads east

    by KTVA Sports on Oct 21, 8:55

    On Monday, the UAA hockey team’s long week was just beginning.