Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 760–765 | Cite as

Characteristics of Grandmothers who have Grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Incomplete Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

  • Valborg L. KvigneEmail author
  • Gary R. Leonardson
  • Joseph Borzelleca
  • Thomas K. Welty


Introduction Characteristics of Northern Plains American Indian maternal grandmothers who had grandchildren with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or incomplete FAS are described to more effectively prevent fetal FAS and alcohol use during pregnancy. Methods Study 1 had 27 maternal grandmothers who had grandchildren with FAS and Study 2 had 18 grandmothers with grandchildren who had incomplete FAS (cases) which were compared with 119 maternal grandmothers who had grandchildren without FAS (controls). The grandchildren were born between 1981 and 1993 on the Northern Plains. Medical records were manually reviewed for each case and control grandmother. Data were analyzed using Mantel–Haenszel chi square. Results Study 1 case grandmothers were more likely to experience medical problems (70.4%) including trauma (48.1%) and injuries (51.9%) than the controls. Most of the Study 1 and 2 case grandmothers (92.6% and 77.8%, respectively) had alcohol use documented in their medical records compared to less than half of the control grandmothers. Seven (15.6%) of the case grandmothers had more than one grandchild in either Study 1 or Study 2. Conclusion Maternal grandmothers who had grandchildren with FAS had significantly higher rates of alcohol use and alcohol-related medical problems than control grandmothers. Antenatal care providers should screen pregnant women for alcohol use at their first visit. The provider needs to ask the women who are using alcohol about their mothers’ use of alcohol to provide appropriate care and counseling for the women and prevent FAS.


Fetal alcohol syndrome Characteristics maternal grandmother American Indian Alcohol 



The authors acknowledge the work of the abstractors: Ellen Brock MD MPH, Martha Neff-Smith PhD MPH RN CS FAAN, Angel Wilson FNP, Mary Ewing FNP, George Coy, MPH, Barbara Frost MD, Betty Reppert PA-C MPH, Margaret Brown RN BS, Richard Williams MD MPH, Patricia Reams MD MPH, Victoria Gutmaker RN BS, Dana Sleicher MA MPH, Patricia Maddox MSN MPH, Joan Kub PhD, Juliette Raymond MD MPH, Barbara E. Parker RN MPH, Nancy Glass MSN MPH, Luis Callejas MD MPH, Beth Phillips MSN MPH, Elizabeth Jordan RN MSN, Nancy Deckert RN, Deborah K. Kuehn RN/CNP MSN, L. Russell Canfield MD, and Katherine Canfield MD. The authors also acknowledge the work of the people who completed data entry: Andrew Desruisseau MD, John M. Marion, Laurie Pope, and Loralei Lacina MD. Michele Strachan MD, Don Blackman PhD, Eva Marie Smith MD, R. Louise Floyd DSN, Diane Burkom, and the late Christopher Krogh MD, made valuable contributions to the project. Funding/support: This study was supported through a memorandum of agreement between the IHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the IHS or CDC.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valborg L. Kvigne
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Gary R. Leonardson
    • 3
  • Joseph Borzelleca
    • 4
    • 5
  • Thomas K. Welty
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Aberdeen Area Indian Health ServiceAberdeenUSA
  2. 2.Sioux FallsUSA
  3. 3.Mountain Plains ResearchDillonUSA
  4. 4.Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  5. 5.RichmondUSA
  6. 6.McCallUSA

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