Healthy Brains for Children launched our Think Before You Drink Initiative, the first of its kind in the world, July 19, 2012. One pregnancy test dispenser became a worldwide phenomenon. Within hours, the story spread around the world. News outlets in South Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, England, Singapore, Bangladesh, and elsewhere trumpeted the story of a pregnancy test dispenser in a bar in Mankato, MN. By Friday night, Jimmy Fallon mentioned the story in a joke. TIME, CNN, Huffington Post, AOL, and many other news outlets ran the story. Within a week, the story became the number one trending story on Yahoo. One dispenser in a bar in Mankato, Minn. and one charitable nonprofit organization committed to their mission completely changed the conversation about preventing prenatal exposure to alcohol.
Healthy Brains for Children seeks to change the current norm so a woman who could be pregnant tests for pregnancy before drinking any alcohol. The initiative is encouraging communities to place pregnancy test dispensers in easily accessed locations that will allow the discrete purchase and use of the tests. Why is this important? A study published April 25, 2012, in Live Science reported that 73 percent of pregnancies in the unmarried 20-23 year old population were unexpected and unplanned. More than 78 percent of teen pregnancies are unexpected and unplanned. More than 30 percent of married couples have unexpected pregnancies. Research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry shows college-age women are drinking at historically high level … especially binge drinking. According to the Center for Disease Control, adolescent and adult binge drinking is at an all time high and most people who binge are not alcohol dependent. According to Dr. Larry Burd, University of North Dakota, an estimated 40 percent or more of women have inadvertently exposed one or more of their children to alcohol before they knew they were pregnant. Unexpected pregnancies and drinking alcohol combine to put millions of developing fetuses in harm’s way.
Research shows the first trimester of a pregnancy is particularly susceptible to damage from alcohol - binge drinking. Drinking alcohol during the first trimester of an unexpected pregnancy is happening at a rate that would be considered epidemic in the case of other devastating illnesses or outbreaks. Our schools, communities, state and nation are being overwhelmed with the financial costs resulting from this silent epidemic.
Healthy Brains for Children has a vision of pregnancy test dispensers in women’s restrooms in bars, gas stations, malls, fitness centers and college student unions where women can discretely test for an unexpected pregnancy before drinking. Within five years, we would like to hear a responsible drinking conversation between women before a night out on the town that would go something like this, “Do we have a DD (designated driver) and did everyone take a PT (pregnancy test)?”