Preventing FAS/ARND in Russian Children Phase 1


This project extends a line of international collaborative research for preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) in Russia.  Russia is a country with very high rates of alcohol use (WHO, 2005), including among women in their childbearing years. FAS/ARND are completely preventable by avoiding alcohol use during pregnancy. Our prior studies have suggested that although many Russian women reduce alcohol consumption after pregnancy is diagnosed, few recognize the risks involved in combining alcohol use with the potential to become pregnant, prior to the diagnosis of pregnancy, and therefore may be at risk for substantial fetal alcohol exposure during the early weeks of pregnancy. Therefore, a preconception dual-focus (alcohol use/pregnancy risk) approach targeting at-risk women is indicated for primary prevention of alcohol exposed pregnancies (AEP). In addition, the study will assess HIV risk in women of childbearing age in Russia. Currently, there is limited understanding about the factors behind HIV risk behaviors of women in the general population in Russia, and therefore, there is minimal evidence to suggest what types of prevention approaches could be effective.

The overarching aim of the study is to reduce risk for AEP in Russia. The proposed study is a two-arm, 20-site, site randomized trial testing a Brief Physician Intervention (BPI) for at-risk women (at-risk drinking childbearing age women who are heterosexually active, and not consistently using contraception). The trial will determine whether physicians, trained in a dual-focused brief motivational intervention and monitored for performance, can foster greater reduction of women's risk behaviors compared to standard care. As part of the  primary study, women will complete a survey assessing their own and their partner's HIV risk behaviors.

The project builds on two current research projects funded by the NIH and CDC and an established collaboration between scientists from medicine, psychology, and public health in the US and Russia. The project will be conducted through a consortium between the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, St. Petersburg State University and the Nizhniy Novgorod Institute for Applied Psychology/Nizhniy Novgorod State Pedagogical University in Russia. The first phase of the collaboration involved capacity building and obtaining data critical to developing FAS/ARND prevention Russia. The second phase involved developing professional training and public print materials for primary prevention. In our prior studies, Russian women identified OBG physicians as a major influence on their health behaviors, supporting the selection of BPI as the primary prevention intervention for this proposal. The project is designed to increase the sustainable capacity of Russian researchers to pursue FAS/ARND prevention research and to strengthen our existing international multidisciplinary collaboration. The study is the first randomized trial targeted at alcohol exposed pregnancies and preventing FAS/ARND in Russia.

Project Narrative. The project focuses on testing an ARND/FASD prevention model that is specifically designed to be deliverable routinely to large numbers of women in OB/GYN clinics in Russia. Increasingly hazardous drinking in women indicates that prevention of alcohol-exposed pregnancies is an important public health issue in Russia. Effectiveness of this intervention across alcohol consumption levels will be explored and knowledge gained from the study can contribute to the FASD and HIV prevention research throughout the world.


Principal Investigators
Barbara Bonner, PhD
Tatiana Balachova , PhD

Karen Beckman, MD, Teaching Faculty
David Bard, MS, Research Associate
Robin Gurwitch, PhD, Collaborator
Sharon Mullins, PhD, Collaborator
John Mulvihill, MD, Collaborator
Mark Wolraich, MD, Faculty Advisor
Jacquelyn Bertrand, PhD, Consultant
Edward Riley, PhD, Consultant

Consortium with St. Petersburg State Unveristy, St. Petersburg Russia
Larissa Tsvetkova, PhD - Co-Investigator
Galina Isurina, PhD - Co-Investigator
Elena Volkova, PhD, Faculty Supervisor
Oleg Erishev, D.Sc. D.Ph., Consultant
Alexander Palchick, MD, PhD, Consultant
Irina Rumina, PhD, MD, Consultant
Vladimir Shapkaitz, MD, PhD, Consultant

Funding Sources
NIH / Fogarty Center

 *Brain Disorders NIH Fogarty International Center grant R21TW006745.


Contact Information
Child Study Center
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
1100 N.E. 13th Street Oklahoma City, OK 73117-1039
Phone: (405) 271-5700 | Fax: (405) 271-8835 | Email: Department Contact