Article Text

  1. D. M. Gabaldon,
  2. C. M. Lovato,
  3. N. S. Handmaker,
  4. S. D. Handmaker
  1. University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM


Purpose To our knowledge there are no published studies of the awareness of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) among a population known to be sexually active. We conducted a pilot study to assess the knowledge of FAS and the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure among a sexually active population and determined the various methods of educating this particular population.

Methods The FAS Awareness Survey was distributed to 100 male and female patients of reproductive age at a local STD/family planning clinic in Albuquerque, NM. The survey included questions regarding demographic information, sexual activity, and alcohol and illicit drug use. We assessed their level of knowledge using the FAS knowledge score, which was based on 12 questions about prenatal alcohol exposure and FAS (≥ 70% was defined as a passing score). Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to compare FAS knowledge scores for demographic variables and categories of risky sexual behavior and substance use.

Results The median FAS knowledge score was 83% and 25% of the patients scored below 70%. There were no statistically significant differences associated with age and gender. Knowledge differences were close to statistically significant for race/ethnicity (p = .07) and marital status (p = .06) and were statistically significant for education (p = .02). Those who engaged in risky sexual behavior showed no difference in their knowledge of FAS when compared to individuals in the study who engaged in less risky sexual practices. Alcohol use was significantly associated with FAS knowledge (p = .02), but illicit drug use was not statistically significant. The most commonly reported sources of information about FAS included friends, radio, social workers, and billboards.

Conclusion We found significant differences in knowledge about FAS and prenatal alcohol exposure related to education and alcohol use. Further studies need to be conducted to evaluate these variables in other populations.

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