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Vermonters are healthy

% of pregnant women who abstain from alcohol


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Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: July 2015

Author: Division of Maternal and Child Health, Vermont Department of Health

The state-level indicator is measured by the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) a project between the state departments of health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Reproductive Health.The purpose of PRAMS is to collect state-specific, population-based data on maternal attitudes and experience before, during and shortly after pregnancy.

  • Among 2011 PRAMS states, Vermont had the highest rate of drinking during the last 3 months of pregnancy at 13%.
  • 67% of Vermont mothers drank at least some alcohol in the 3 months before pregnancy, the second highest proportion of 2011 PRAMS states.
  • 35% of Vermont mothers reported their pregnancy was unintended. (2011 PRAMS)
  • 26% of Vermont mothers reported they did not get advice from a healthcare worker to not drink alcohol during their pregnancy. (2011 PRAMS)

Vermont PRAMS data identified two distinct profiles of women who used alcohol before and during pregnancy and showed that a healthcare provider's advice against drinking any alcohol during pregnancy was associated with lower prevalence rates of drinking.


The Vermont Department of Health:

  • Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Office of Local Health – District Offices

Healthcare Providers

Maternal Child Health Coalitions

Community Health Teams

What Works
  • Education and information campaigns to increase awareness of the risks of alcohol use for pregnancy.
  • Healthcare workers providing information and brief support to women of childbearing age on the risks alcohol use for pregnancy.


  • Outreach to healthcare providers to encourage them to advise women not to drink if pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

Similar to statewide efforts, local partners are using data to drive local strategy. For regional data on Maternal and Infant Health indicators, check out our Public Health Data Explorer.

Why Is This Important?

Prenatal exposure to alcohol is one of the leading preventable causes of birth defects, intellectual disabilities and other developmental disorders in newborns.

This indicator is part of Healthy Vermonters 2020 (the State Health Assessment) that documents the health status of Vermonters at the start of the decade and the population health indicators and goals that will guide the work of public health through 2020. Click here for more information.

Notes on Methodology

Data is updated as it becomes available and timing may vary by data source. For more information about this indicator, click here.

The PRAMS sample of women who have had a recent live birth is drawn from the state's birth certificate file. Each participating state samples between 1,300 and 3,400 women per year. Women from some groups are sampled at a higher rate to ensure adequate data are available in smaller but higher risk populations. Selected women are first contacted by mail. If there is no response to repeated mailings, women are contacted and interviewed by telephone. Data collection procedures and instruments are standardized to allow comparisons between states.

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