SOURCE: California Teratogen Information Service

California Teratogen Information Service

August 13, 2009 17:55 ET

New CTIS Collaboration With WIC to Help Women Avoid Risky Drinking During Pregnancy

First-of-Its-Kind Study Uses Web-Based Platform to Assess and Deter Alcohol Consumption

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwire - August 13, 2009) - The California Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) -- a non-profit housed at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and serving the entire state of California -- has joined with San Diego State University's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program in a project aimed to prevent alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Funded by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, CTIS will evaluate the effectiveness of an adapted web-based alcohol program that aims to measure and reduce current alcohol consumption among low-income non-pregnant women participating in WIC's Special Supplemental Nutritional Program.

"Our mission is to educate women on risks and to promote a healthy pregnancy outcome," said Dr. Christina Chambers, the program director of the CTIS Pregnancy Risk Line and associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego. "Heavy prenatal alcohol use is a common known cause of adverse effects in a developing baby and is completely preventable. This program has great potential to address this critical issue using 21st century technology."

The new web-based program is adapted from the "electronic-Check Up To Go" (e-CHUG), originally developed at San Diego State University (SDSU) as an alcohol assessment and intervention tool, and is currently being used successfully in over 300 college campuses throughout the U.S. The e-CHUG program draws on motivational interviewing and social norms feedback to motivate individuals to reduce their alcohol consumption.

Through formative research, the e-CHUG program was specially redesigned to address alcohol consumption in women of childbearing potential. CTIS played a large role in ensuring the appropriateness of the modified program, a first of its kind for WIC in the alcohol field.

"The web-based platform of the study is unique as it allows it to be more specific and interactive than other existing computer-based programs," said Katia Delrahim Howlett, a doctoral candidate and the principal investigator of the CTIS study. "CTIS hopes to see the program feedback positively influence participants by increasing awareness of the negative affects of alcohol use during pregnancy."

CTIS will test the effectiveness of the adapted program through a small-scale two-group randomized controlled trial, with and without the addition of a web-based personalized feedback. The feedback is intended to reduce risky alcohol use within WIC participants, as defined by the consumption of three or more alcoholic drinks in one occasion.

Qualified and consenting participants will be randomly assigned to complete the web-based assessment and will receive either general health feedback or personalized feedback intervention. All participants will complete follow-up assessments on reported alcohol consumption after one month and two months.

If the findings of the preliminary study demonstrate that the program is effective, CTIS will continue to validate its findings through additional studies. If the program is further validated, it has the potential to be implemented as a cost-effective program of similar nature into different types of clinical settings. The goal will be to appropriately and accurately assess multiple health behaviors in order to provide appropriate feedback and health education to improve health outcomes of pregnancy.

The launch of the study is a prelude to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Month in September and the 10th annual FASD Day on September 9, 2009. FASD Awareness Day is promoted by the National Organization of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Washington, D.C.

Founded 27 years ago and housed at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, CTIS offers a free Pregnancy Risk Information Line at 1-800-532-3749 that fields questions (in both English and Spanish) about exposure concerns and where to find medical advice and referral resources to pregnant and breastfeeding women and their families.

Recently, CTIS launched a new website ( that provides links to the most current information about potentially harmful exposures -- from illnesses to environmental toxins and hazardous occupational materials -- before, during and after pregnancy. It also can lead women and their families and health care providers to other knowledgeable resources and teratology professionals that specialize in birth defects caused by exposures during pregnancy.

For more information about CTIS or its free telephone and online services, call 1-800-532-3749 or visit

Contact Information

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