A nonprofit wants them in public places to avoid prenatal alcohol exposure.
Pregnancy test kits could soon be available in the women's restrooms of Minnesota bars and restaurants so that expectant mothers can avoid prenatal exposure to alcohol.
A Brainerd-based nonprofit announced the plan Thursday, the same day that federal health authorities released a survey showing that one in 13 pregnant women reported consuming alcohol.
The first pregnancy-test dispenser will be installed at the Pub 500 in Mankato, according to Healthy Brains for Children, which is devoted to preventing fetal alcohol syndrome. The test kit would cost $3.
The nonprofit seeks to make pregnancy tests available "worldwide in locations where women can test before drinking alcohol rather than waiting until a month or two into the pregnancy," according to executive director and founder Jody Crowe. He said he hopes eventually to install dispensers in women's restrooms at bars, gas stations, shopping malls, fitness centers and other locations "to target those at high risk for unexpect[ed] pregnancies.''
Crowe said he hopes the dispensers allow women "to take a pregnancy test in the privacy of the restroom without having to purchase a pregnancy test over the counter. In a small community, purchasing a pregnancy test can be an embarrassing event and expose the woman to the gossip of the town."
Crowe said his organization is "in the beginning stages" of getting 100 dispensers placed in the Twin Cities area.
In a report released Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it surveyed 14,000 pregnant women from 2006 through 2010 and asked them whether they drank alcohol the previous month and how much.
Of those who said they had, nearly one in five acknowledged binge drinking in that time period -- downing four or more drinks.
Paul Walsh 612-673-4482