Mankato bar installs "first ever" pregnancy-test dispenser in ladies room

The pregnancy-test dispenser in the ladies room at Pub 500 in Mankato.
The pregnancy-test dispenser in the ladies room at Pub 500 in Mankato.
Photo courtesy of Tom Frederick.

The ladies room at Pub 500 in Mankato received an odd distinction today. It is, according to a nonprofit group called Healthy Brains for Children, the first bathroom in the world to house a pregnancy-test dispenser.

Healthy Brains for Children is hoping that the message will ring loud and clear: If a woman knows she's pregnant, she will abstain from drinking alcohol. In turn, there will be a greatly reduced chance that another child will be born with fetal alcohol problems.

According to Jody Allen Crowe, Healthy Brains for Children's director, the group is hoping this dispenser will be the first of many installed in the United States, and, eventually, all over the world.

"What we're trying to do is provide tools for women to find out as soon as possible if they're pregnant," Crowe said. "By putting these dispensers in alcohol establishments, the message and the tool are right there."

Crowe formerly worked as a teacher on a Native American reservation, where he says he saw many children suffering from behavioral problems he later linked, through research, to alcohol use by their mothers while pregnant, according to the Mankato Free Press.

He continued researching the subject and then published his own book, titled The Fatal Link, examining the link between prenatal alcohol exposure and school violence. He quit teaching to form Healthy Brains for Children.

Tom Frederick, the owner of Pub 500, met Crowe when he would come in for breakfast during the time he was working on his book. The two men got to chatting, and Frederick thought Crowe's idea for the pregnancy-test dispensers made a lot of sense.

"It's the right thing to do," Frederick said. "Obviously, we looked at it as a strange idea at first, but it can help prevent problems that are 100 percent preventable."

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