A number of bars across Alaska will soon have pregnancy tests in their bathrooms in an effort to reduce fetal alcohol syndrome across the state. As reported by Anchorage Daily News, it's part of a study being conducted by the University of Alaska to determine if posters warning women against drinking while pregnant are more effective when they're coupled with pregnancy test dispensers. Alaska currently has the highest known rate of fetal alcohol syndrome in the US — women in the state are 20 percent more likely to binge drink while pregnant.
Officials are hoping the availability of pregnant tests can help to cut down on this problem; many women who end up causing fetal alcohol syndrome in a fetus do so during the first month, when they are often unaware of the pregnancy. Jody Allen Crowe, founder of a non-profit that focuses on installing pregnancy test dispensers in bars and stores around Minnesota, said that she hopes using these tests before drinking becomes as commonplace as the designated driver is now.
The initiative will start out with 20 machines installed in bars and restaurants in three Alaskan cities, each with a poster warning against the dangers of fetal alcohol syndrome attached. In other cities, the same posters will be distributed, but without the pregnancy test dispenser — the goal is to see if the dispenser makes the message more effective, with relatively low expectations about how many women will actually take the test. David Driscoll from the University of Alaska said that ""relatively small percentage of women who will see the test kit dispenser" will actually take the test. Even so, the project proposal calls for some 5,000 tests to be distributed over the next year.