Preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/ARND in Russian Children


This proposal 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 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).

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. If effective, the BPI primary prevention protocol could be disseminated throughout the existing Russian health care system and public women's clinics.

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 proposed study would be the first randomized trial targeted at alcohol exposed pregnancies and preventing FAS/ARND in Russia.


Our article has been published recently at Addictive Behaviors Journal. Using a Single Binge Drinking Question to Identify Russian Women at Risk for an Alcohol-Exposed-Pregnancy.
Final version published online: 21-Mar-2015 full bibliographic details: Addictive Behaviors (2015), pp. 53-57 DOI information: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.03.003.

The article will be available for free access until May 10, 2015.

Please use this link to download a copy of the article.

Using a Single Binge Drinking Question to Identify Russian Women at Risk for an Alcohol- Exposed Pregnancy

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Principal Investigator
Tatiana Balachova, PhD                                                                                                                                 

Key Personnel
Barbara Bonner, PhD Co-Investigator
Mark Chaffin, PhD, Co-Investigator
Larissa Tsvetkova, PhD Co-Investigator
Karen Beckman, MD, Faculty Collaborator
Jacquelyn Bertrand, PhD, Consultant
Oleg Erishev, MD, PhD, Consultant
Michael Fleming, MD, MPH, Consultant
Galina Isurina, PhD - Faculty Supervisor
Alexander Palchik, MD, PhD, Faculty
Corinna Reinicke, MD, PhD, Consultant
Vladimir Shapkaitz, MD, PhD, Faculty
Linda Sobell, PhD, Consultant
Elena Volkova, PhD, Faculty Supervisor

Advisory Board
Sheldon Levy, PhD - Advisor
John Mulvihill, MD, Advisor
Edward Riley, PhD, Advisor|
Kevin Rudeen, PhD, Advisor
Mark Wolraich, MD, Advisor
Elena Varavikova, MD, PHD, MPH, Advisor

Consortium with St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg Russia and Nizhniy Novgorod State Pedagogical University      

Funding Sources
The project is supported by Research Grant #1R01AA016234-01A1.
National Institutes of Health / Fogarty International Center/ NIAAA/Fogarty Center