Most people know that drinking alcohol when pregnant can do extensive harm to one's unborn child. However, some women consume alcohol while not knowing that they are with child. To rectify this problem, Healthy Brains for Children, a non-profit group in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is planning to put 100 pregnancy test vending machines in local bars -- and, potentially, across the globe.
On the surface, the idea might seem a bit bizarre, but the idea is that women who suspect that they might be pregnant would be able to take a test at a bar before consuming any alcohol. The end result would potentially be a decrease in birth defects as a result of drinking while pregnant, as alcohol is the number one contributing factor to developmental disabilities and defects.
"Over 30% of married women and over 70% of 20-29 year old women are having unexpected pregnancies," the Health Brains for Children web site reads. "Unexpected pregnancies are at a high risk for prenatal exposure to alcohol that can cause lifelong damage to the fetus."
Already, one bar, Pub 500, in Mankato, south of Minneapolis-St. Paul, has installed the machine in a restroom. Women who choose to use the service simply use a credit or debit card and, for $3, they receive a pregnancy test.
"It was another worthy cause," explained Pub 500 bar owner Tom Frederick in an interview with ABC News. "We’re involved in all kinds of things in our local community."
The dispenser isn't a money-maker for Frederick. In fact, all earnings coming from the sale of the tests go back to Healthy Brains for Children. Still, Pub 500 is offering a service that some experts believe could help curb Fetal Alcoholism Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) as a result of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
Dr. David Garry, a delivery doctor at Montefiore Medical Center in New York and the head of the Alcohol and Women Committee for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, believes that the program will offer some important benefits.
"The pregnancy test alone will not necessarily alter FASDs rates," he told ABC News, going on to note, though, that "there is large potential for reduction of FASDs through the opportunity to raise awareness and provide education to women in the high-risk setting of a bar or nightclub."