Pregnancy-specific alcohol policies don't decrease infant or maternal harm

“Policy makers should not assume that pregnancy-specific alcohol policies improve infant or maternal health. Policy approaches more likely to improve infant and maternal health are urgently needed.”

Over the past 40 years, almost all states have enacted policies addressing alcohol use during pregnancy, becoming increasingly punitive. ANSIRH researchers examined the associations of these pregnancy-specific alcohol policies with infant and maternal health outcomes.

They found that most pregnancy-specific policies were not associated with decreased infant injuries or health problems or decreases in maternal health problems. Some policies were associated with increased odds of at least 1 adverse infant or maternal outcome. The frequency of infant injuries and health problems for mothers and babies shows that infants and birthing people face health burdens, and these policies do not appear to reduce these burdens.

The researchers found that these policies were not linked to improved health and were not an effective way to address the public health concern of negative outcomes of pregnant people’s alcohol consumption. These findings are consistent with other research that also found few improved infant health outcomes from pregnancy-specific drug policies.