Improved Accuracy of Screening Tools for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder May Lead to Faster Diagnosis and More Timely Intervention

A new screening instrument has the potential to more accurately identify fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), reducing missed and erroneous diagnoses in affected children and facilitating treatment and support, a new study suggests. Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) is a known cause of birth and growth defects and neurobehavioral issues.

Study Highlights Impact of Drinking in Pregnancy and Informs Regional Prevention Strategies

Drinking in pregnancy can harm a developing baby. The term fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) describes the range of effects that can be caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), the most severe form, have poor growth, atypical facial features, and central nervous system problems. Less severe forms include partial fetal alcohol syndrome (pFAS) and alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND). However, all three require evidence of neurobehavioral impairment affecting cognition or behavior (or both). A recent study in a US Pacific Southwest city estimated that, at a minimum, 2% of first-grade schoolchildren had an FASD. A new report in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research describes the range of FASD among these children and the characteristics of their mothers.