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Prevention

There is no safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol can cause problems for the developing baby throughout pregnancy, including before a woman knows she is pregnant. Drinking alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy can cause the baby to have abnormal facial features. Growth and central nervous system problems (e.g., low birthweight, behavioral problems) can occur from drinking alcohol anytime during pregnancy. The baby’s brain is developing throughout pregnancy and can be affected by exposure to alcohol at any time.

♦ Questions about drinking alcohol during pregnancy? Visit the CDC Alcohol and Pregnancypage.

♦ The CDC’s Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Efforts (SBI) is a routine element of health care in all primary care settings to identify and help people who drink too much.

♦ An evidence-based program that works to prevent alcohol-exposed pregnancies is CHOICES: Preventing Alcohol Exposed Pregnancies CHOICES is based on activities that research has shown to be effective.

Guidelines for Diagnosing FASD

Deciding if a child has FAS takes several steps. There is no one test to diagnose FAS, and many other disorders can have similar symptoms. For more detail, see the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Guidelines for Referral and Diagnosis for healthcare providers and other clinicians.

Resource: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Program a program of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in cooperation with the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, provides a general overview of FASDs. It includes fact sheets, definition of key terms, commonly used resources, an algorithm for the identification and management of children with FASDs, as well as medical/education tools. The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Toolkit was developed to raise awareness, promote surveillance and screening, and ensure that all affected children receive appropriate and timely interventions.

Treatment

No two people with an FASD are exactly alike. FASDs can include physical or intellectual disabilities, as well as problems with behavior and learning. These symptoms can range from mild to severe. Treatment services for people with FASDs should be different for each person depending on the symptoms.Receiving a formal FASD diagnosis and having a firm understanding of that diagnosis can help families set realistic expectations and facilitate appropriate treatment, intervention and planning. It is important to recognize the value of early home/school intervention. Many of these children have life-long learning and behavioral problems caused by organic brain damage. This is extremely stressful and can be overwhelming for any parent or caregiver. Children with FAS may require a range of specialized social, and educational interventions in addition to medical services in neurology or other specialties.

Resource: Overlapping Behavioral Characteristics of FASD & Related Mental Health Diagnoses in Children

NOFAS presented a webinar on “Resources for Families Living with FASD: What’s Out There?” with lots of useful practical information on resources and services for people living with FASD.

Circle of Hope

Check out the NOFAS Circle of Hope, an organization that supports woman who have used alcohol or illicit substances during pregnancy.

NOFAS.ORG Educational Videos

Treatment

The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) is the leading voice and resource of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) community. Founded in 1990, NOFAS is the only international non-profit organization committed solely to FASD primary prevention, advocacy and support.  NOFAS seeks to create a global community free of alcohol-exposed pregnancies and a society supportive of individuals already living with FASD.

NOFAS.ORG Resources