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Program Rewards Teen Moms-To-Be Who Stay Sober

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A new program is providing rewards for teenagers who stay alcohol-free during pregnancy. An organization called Healthy Brains for Children is heading the effort.

Expecting teenagers are given a cell phone as an incentive but also a Breathalyzer that they will be required to blow into during the day.

"I guess it's leading edge as far as prevention, and we are doing something," said board member, Anne Archibald. "It's proactive."

The name on the side of the Breathalyzer says it all. "My Baby's Breath" ensures that expecting teenage moms know exactly what's at stake.

"Social services is on board and our sheriff here is on board, so we have a really good support group here in town," Archibald said.

Expecting moms with a history of alcohol abuse are given a prepaid cell phone as a gift. But in order to keep it and gain other rewards, they are required to blow into a Breathalyzer several times a day and a monitoring device takes their picture every time.

"It will take a picture while they are blowing into the Breathalyzer in order to guarantee the person who is supposed to be blowing into the device is the one doing it," Archibald said.

If alcohol is detected an alert is sent out to the parent or whoever is monitoring the teenager.

There will be periodic incentives for expecting mothers who remain alcohol-free. Those incentives could include gift cards or additional minutes added to their cell phone. They can also receive gifts for their baby.

"It's a great opportunity to have action, not just information," Brainerd principal Andrea Rusk said.

Rusk said teachers are often the first to find out about an expecting mom. Rusk believes having a program like this creates a healthy and safe start for both baby and mom-to-be.

"We are always concerned whether it's one or 10 teenagers who are in the high school, and how they're taking care of themselves," said Rusk. "We want them to have a healthy pregnancy, so this was an opportunity for us to help out."

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