Starting in December, researchers from the University of Alaska will study whether the free tests, combined with messages about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, can raise public awareness about the health issue.
“We’re trying to get prevention messages out to women so that women understand how important it is to not drink during pregnancy,” a University of Alaska professor who designed the project told USA Today.
It’s a troubling problem in Alaska, where about 163 children are born each year affected by exposure to alcohol before they’re born, says the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. While not every state tracks that information, Alaska has had the highest incidence of such exposure among those that do.
“It needs to be an issue that people are thinking about across the country, but this is a good place to be doing the study because we know we have high rates and it’s something that people are concerned about,” the researcher said. “The idea is that if someone sees the information with the pregnancy test it may have more of an impact, whether or not they use the test.”
The pregnancy test study will last for two years, and will try to see if posting messages with the tests works better than simply posters on the topic alone. As such, some bars will only have the posters.
Women who get a pregnancy test or view the posters can choose to fill out a survey afterward and receive a $15 gift certificate if they do.