Responsible from the Start!
Working Group on Alcohol and Responsibility / Bundesverband der Deutschen Spirituosen-Industrie und -Importeure e.V.
2009 > Ongoing
To promote abstention from alcohol during pregnancy and nursing.
To reduce the number of children born with alcohol-related disabilities (Foetal Alcohol Syndrome - FAS).
1. “Responsible from the Start!” – Guidance on abstention from alcohol during pregnancy and nursing – leaflet
The “Verantwortung von Anfang an! – Leitfaden für den Verzicht auf alkoholhaltige Getränke in Schwangerschaft und Stillzeit” (Responsible from the Start – Guidance on abstention from alcohol during pregnancy and nursing) leaflet has been published since 2009. It was compiled with expert assistance from the University Children’s Hospital Münster at the University Hospital Münster (UKM) and the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) outpatient department at the Walstedde outpatient clinic.
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is an umbrella term for the entire spectrum of alcohol-related disorders in children. Such disorders can take three forms: Physical deformities, growth problems, and damage to the central nervous system. Each year in Germany, over 2,000 children are born with full FAS.
The leaflet provides clearly worded and presented information about FAS and guidance for pregnant and nursing women on how to abstain from alcohol. Because of the important part played by family and acquaintances, the leaflet also targets fathers-to-be, friends and co-workers with the message that they must never encourage a pregnant woman to drink alcohol.
Former Federal Drug Commissioners Sabine Bätzing-Lichtenthäler, Mechthild Dyckmans, Marlene Mortler and Daniela Ludwig welcomed the initiative and have supported the leaflet with a foreword addressed directly to pregnant and nursing mothers.
Also, the following Parliamentary State Secretaries in the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) have supported the initiative with a letter to expecting parents: Ursula Heinen-Esser, Julia Klöckner, Peter Bleser and Hans-Joachim Fuchtel.
The leaflet was distributed in 2020 and 2021 (in a total print run of 740,000) in “For you” gift boxes and in “Happy Mom” bags handed out to pregnant women through gynaecological practices together with the maternity record book. The leaflet was thus presented in an attractive package along with other information and products for pregnant women.
Since the end of 2013, the leaflet has also been distributed annually via a service provider, IDS Service Company for Information in Healthcare, to gynaecological practices and midwives to pass on to pregnant women.
Every year since 2012 – and in some cases multiple times in a single year, the German Professional Association of Gynaecologists (BVF) has published articles on the initiative in its professional journal, FRAUENARZT. Article topics in 2019/2020 were the campaign against alcohol during pregnancy and alcohol prevention in pregnancy.
Two advertisements published in 2020 in the “familie&co” families magazine communicated the need for complete abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy with the messages (translated) “total abstinence is the only way” and “9 months 0% blood alcohol” together with website addresses for tips and advice.
The Responsible from the Start! website is linked from happy-mom.de. The initiative is linked to by the Federal Centre for Nutrition (BZfE) website and the pregnancy advice website links it via the Child Health Foundation website. In connection with the Präventionspakt Bayern (Bavaria Prevention Pact) round table, the BSI Working Group on Alcohol and Responsibility makes a substantial contribution through this project to the Bavarian campaign for zero alcohol in pregnancy (website here).
An Instagram page on prevention has additionally been online since October 2020. The page has the title ‘Verantwortung von Anfang an!’ (Responsible from the Start) and carries the message ‘9 Monate 0 Promille’ (9 months 0% blood alcohol).
2. ‘Responsible from the Start – What girls need to know about alcohol in pregnancy’ – flyer
The flyer for girls, “Verantwortung von Anfang an! – Was Mädchen über alkoholhaltige Getränke in der Schwangerschaft wissen sollten” (Responsible from the Start – What girls need to know about alcohol in pregnancy) has been published annually since 2012. The tenth edition was published in May 2022. Compiled with the expert assistance of Gisela Gille, practising physician in Lüneburg and Honorary Member of the German Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics (DGGG), the flyer for girls supplements the main guidance leaflet for pregnant and nursing women.
The flyer has been handed out since 2014 for education purposes to girls from age 12 with the “Happy Me” bags they receive when they visit a gynaecological practice. Dr Gille also hands out the flyer in her training workshops. Since 2015, paediatricians also hand out the flyer for girls together with the “Happy Youth” leaflet presented at the J1 adolescent health check-up from age 13. Since 2016, the leaflet has also been distributed via IDS Service Company for Information in Healthcare.
The former Federal Drug Commissioner, Daniela Ludwig, has welcomed this second prevention initiative for the education of girls annually in a foreword.
3. ‘Reponsibility from the Start! – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome’ – leaflet
The leaflet “Verantwortung von Anfang an! – Das Fetale Alkoholsyndrom” (Responsibility from the Start! – Foetal Alcohol Syndrome) has been published since 2012. It is compiled by Dr Reinhold Feldmann, University Children’s Hospital Münster at the University Hospital Münster (UKM) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) outpatient department at the outpatient clinic Walstedde.
The leaflet aims to promote a better understanding of children, adolescents and adults with prenatal alcohol damage. It offers practical tips for successfully helping those affected and gives pointers to potential therapy, school and statutory assistance for them and their families. The leaflet was first published in German in 2012 and in English in 2013.
The former Federal Drug Commissioner, Daniela Ludwig, has welcomed the leaflet and noted that education and information is needed for parents, guardians, teachers and public servants.
- University Children’s Hospital Münster at the University Hospital Münster (UKM)
- FASD outpatient department at the outpatient clinic Walstedde
- Practising physician in Lüneburg and Honorary Member of the German Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics (DGGG)
- German Professional Association of Gynaecologists (BVF)
Printed materials (until December 2022):
- Women’s leaflets: A total of 5,4000,000 women’s leaflets have been distributed until December 2022. Also, 64,500 practice packs (posters and leaflets) have been sent to gynaecological practices. In 2022 alone 313,000 copies were printed and 5,000 information packages with brochures and information posters were sent to gynaecological practices. 100,000 brochures were distributed via the “Happy Mom” bag/gynaecologist, 150,000 via the IDS Service Company and 50,00 via the “For You” gift box.
- Girls’ flyers: A total of 755,000 girls’ flyers have been distributed until December 2022. In 2022 alone 90,000 copies were printed, 20,000 were distributed via the “Happy Me” bag/gynaecologist practices, 50,000 via paediatrician at the J1 examination and 25,000 via the IDS service company for information in the healthcare sector, Baden-Baden
- FAS leaflets: A total of 344,000 FAS leaflets in German and 12,000 FAS leaflets in English have been distributed. In 2022 alone, 43,000 copies of the German version were distributed.
Distribution channels 2022: “Happy Mom” bags, “Happy Me” bags, “Happy Youth” leaflet, “For you” gift box and the IDS Service Company for Information in Healthcare.
Articles/ads: There articles in FRAUENARZT gynaecologists’ journal.
Website: The website had 107,960 users and 244,650 page views until December 2021. Figures for website users and page views cannot be reported for the period 08/2015 to 01/2016 due to the relaunch of the website.
Measurement & evaluation
An evaluation in 2022 showed that 90% of pregnant women who received the leaflet in a “Happy Mom” bag also went on to read it. 85% said they felt informed, 52% gained new information and knowledge, 80% stated that they learned how alcohol affects the unborn child, 72% learned to abstain from alcohol whilst pregnant. Another evaluation (by IDS) showed that 84% learned that they should completely abstain from alcohol, 92% learned how alcohol affects the unborn child and 73% learned something. (Source: Working Group on Alcohol and Responsibility press release 1/2023 of 28 February 2023).
The evaluation analysis from June 2022 to February 2023 returned positive findings. 225 replies from girls aged 14 to 17 found that: 77% said they learned something new from reading the flyer; 91% felt well informed. (Source: Working Group on Alcohol and Responsibility press release 2/2023 of 1 March 2023).