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Do state policies to prevent alcohol use during pregnancy work?

Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause harm to the developing fetus. As many states have policies designed to prevent this behavior, researchers compared the drinking behavior of pregnant women by state and calculated the association with each type of policy. They found that having both punitive and supportive policies were associated with more drinking, but not binge or heavy drinking, than having no policies. Individually targeted policies had mixed effects, and combinations of policies were not associated with any outcome. This counterintuitive finding could mean that states with more alcohol use adopt more policies or that the policies they do have could be ineffective.

The paper, "State policies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy and alcohol use among pregnant women 1985–2016: Evidence from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and was published online in Women’s Health Issues.

Research & Resources