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New Review of FASD Literature Identifies Hundreds of Co-Occurring Conditions

January 29, 2016

Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada have published a review which identifies more than 400 distinct disease conditions that may co-occur in people with an FASD.

Published online on January 5th by the journal The Lancet, the article examines the results of more than 125 studies. A total of 428 potential co-occurring conditions are identified, affecting nearly every system of the body, including the central nervous system, vision, hearing, the heart, circulation, digestion, and musculoskeletal and respiratory systems. While the association with FASD does not necessarily represent a direct cause-and-effect link, many of these disorders have been shown to occur more often among those with FASD than in the general population.

To read an online summary of the article, click here.

Kathy Mitchell of NOFAS Discusses FASD in New Article

January 29, 2016

Kathy Mitchell, Vice President of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS), is featured in a new article first published in The Washington Post.

The article discusses Ms. Mitchell’s daughter Karli, who was born with FAS as a result of Ms. Mitchell’s alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Now 43, Karli is developmentally only at the level of a first grader, and she cannot live independently. However, she is an integral member of the family and has become an advocate for individuals with an FASD, even receiving a special award in 1999 from former President George Bush for her efforts.

The article has been picked up by news organizations across the country and internationally, and has received considerable reader response. To read the article, click here. To learn more about the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, read our “About FASD” page or download our free “What You Need to Know” fact sheet Effects of Alcohol on a Fetus.

Raising Awareness About Developmental Disabilities: An Interview with Leigh Ann Davis from The Arc

January 15, 2016

This month, in honor of January as National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the Ask the Expert column features an interview with Leigh Ann Davis, M.S.S.W., M.P.A. Ms. Davis is Program Manager for Justice Initiatives for the Program Innovations Group at The Arc, the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Ms. Davis has been with The Arc for more than 20 years, and has authored numerous publications related to criminal justice, victimization, FASD, and genetic research. For this Ask the Expert, Ms. Davis discusses The Arc’s FASD prevention efforts, their partners, and her work in the areas of disability and criminal justice.

To read our interview with Ms. Davis, click here.

Adults with an FASD Sought for Survey

January 15, 2016

A new health survey has been released for adults living with an FASD. The survey was developed by Myles Himmelreich, C.J. Lutke, and Emily Travis, three adults with an FASD who are also vocal advocates for increased research and awareness of this spectrum of disorders. Ms. Travis is also a former member of the FASD Center’s Expert Panel, and the author of our August 2014 Ask the Expert column titled “The Life Perspective on FASD.”

The survey, titled Health Survey 2016: Adults with FASD, was developed in conjunction with two prominent FASD researchers: Edward Riley, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at the San Diego State University Department of Psychology, and Joanne Weinberg, Ph.D., Professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences at the University of British Columbia.

The survey examines all areas of living with an FASD, including physical problems, learning problems, and cognitive issues. Participants do not have to have a diagnosis of an FASD; adults (15 and older) who have a history of the problems associated with an FASD can also complete the survey. The results are completely anonymous; no personal information will be collected.

This survey marks one of the first times anyone has tried to gather this range of data about adults with an FASD and the challenges they face. The results will be presented in April 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia at a plenary session of the 7th National Biennial Conference on Adolescents and Adults with FASD - Research on Adolescents and Adults: If Not Now, When? A panel of researchers will reply to the findings, which could help to shape FASD research going forward.

To complete the survey or share it with a friend, click here.

NOFAS Posts Free Webinar on FASD and Attachment

January 15, 2016

As part of its ongoing series of educational videos on FASD, the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) has uploaded its most recent Webinar to its official YouTube channel -- The Mystery of Risk: Alcohol, Pregnancy and Attachment. This Webinar focuses on the changes that occur in a fetal brain due to prenatal alcohol exposure, how those changes affect the child’s ability to attach to a caregiver (particularly an adoptive parent), and how the exposure impacts the child’s long-term behaviors.

The Webinar is presented by Ira J. Chasnoff, M.D., a pediatrician, Clinical Professor with the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine, and a member of the Children’s Research Triangle in Chicago. The Webinar expands on concepts that Dr. Chasnoff discusses in his 2011 book The Mystery of Risk: Drugs, Alcohol, Pregnancy and the Vulnerable Child.

To watch the Webinar, click here. In addition, readers might want to take a look at our recent Ask the Expert titled “Issues in Adoption and Parenting of Children with an FASD,” an interview with the FASD Center’s FASD Specialist Dan Dubovsky.

New Canadian Guidelines for FASD Diagnosis Released

December 31, 2015

First Revision to Major FASD Diagnostic Guidelines in 10 Years

A new article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) announces one of the most significant developments in FASD diagnosis in the last decade. A team of researchers and providers assembled by the Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network has published Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: A Guideline for Diagnosis Across the Lifespan, a group of evidence-based recommendations designed to improve current FASD-related diagnostic processes and lead to more efficient and effective care.

There are currently four widely recognized and applied sets of guidelines for FASD-related diagnoses; the University of Washington’s FASD 4-Digit Diagnostic Code (Astley, 2004), the Institute of Medicine’s Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Diagnosis, Epidemiology, Prevention, and Treatment (Hoyme and colleagues, 2005), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Guidelines for Referral and Diagnosis (Bertrand and colleagues, 2004), and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Canadian Guidelines for Referral and Diagnosis (Chudley and colleagues, 2005). This new publication revises and updates the 2005 Canadian guidelines.

To assemble these new recommendations, a 14-member steering committee was formed in 2012. The guidelines, which are initially being implemented primarily in Canada, propose a number of significant changes to current FASD diagnostic practice, including the first recommended use of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) as a diagnostic term and the inclusion of special considerations for diagnosing FASD at the infant, young child, and adult levels.

An early release of the article is now available on CMAJ; click here. The original 2005 Canadian guidelines are available here. And keep an eye on the FASD Center’s FASD in Review column in the new year for an analysis and crosswalk of the 2005 and 2015 versions of the guidelines.

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

December 31, 2015

National Birth Defects Prevention Network Releases 2016 Awareness Packet

Each January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, dedicated to raising awareness of birth defects and providing tools to consumers and professionals to help prevent these disabilities.

Birth defects occur while a baby is growing during pregnancy and can cause physical or mental disabilities, and in some cases even death. The March of Dimes estimates that approximately 120,000 babies are born each year in the U.S. with at least one birth defect. Among the most common are heart defects, cleft lip and cleft palate, Down syndrome, Spina Bifida, and FASD.

The National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) has released a revised version of their annual birth defects awareness packet to mark the 2016 event. NBDPN’s theme for National Birth Defects Prevention Month this year is “Making Healthy Choices to Prevent Birth Defects – Make a PACT for Prevention.” PACT stands for:

P – Plan ahead
A – Avoid harmful substances
C – Choose a healthy lifestyle
T – Talk to your doctor

This year’s packet was developed in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Teratology Society (TS), state-level birth defects programs, and others. There are several new resources in this edition of the packet, and it features suggestions for how you can use social media to raise awareness and join the conversation about birth defects prevention using the hashtag #LivingMyPACT.

To learn more, visit the NBDPN’s National Birth Defects Prevention Month page. To download the entire packet in PDF form, visit here.

Forensics Journal Focuses Entire Issue on FASD

December 15, 2015

Recognition of FASD Vital in the Criminal Justice System

Forensic Scholars Today (FST) is the official quarterly newsletter of the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS), in partnership with Concordia University, St. Paul (Minnesota). The goal of FST is to provide readers with practitioner- and professional-based publications on an array of forensic mental health-related topics.

For their latest newsletter, FST is focusing entirely on FASD as it relates to the criminal justice system. Articles focus on tips to assist forensic mental health professionals in FASD screening, the importance of FASD training for criminal justice and legal professionals, types of social dysfunction in some adults with an FASD, and the efficacy of art therapy as a treatment for some clients with an FASD.

To read the articles online for free, click here. The Editor-in-Chief of FST, Jerrod Brown, will also provide a free Webinar titled “FASD and the Criminal Justice System: A Review for Forensic Professionals” on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 from noon to 1:30pm (Eastern). Continuing education credits are available. To learn more about the Webinar and to register, click here.

The FASD Center for Excellence also offers resources to help recognize individuals with an FASD in the criminal justice system. Check out our free online “What You Need to Know” fact sheets Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: When Your Child Faces the Juvenile Justice System, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Juvenile Justice: How Professionals Can Make A Difference, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and the Criminal Justice System. In addition, the Tools for Success curriculum for criminal justice professionals was revised in 2014, and can be completed online for free at the user’s own pace.

New “FASD in Review” Analyzes National Data Sets on Alcohol Use

December 15, 2015

Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking Rates Among Pregnant Women Have Risen

This month, FASD in Review examines data on alcohol use by pregnant women from two national surveys; SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Data collection on alcohol use among women lays the groundwork for national and state-level strategies to address alcohol-exposed pregnancies. However, common limitations in the methodology of surveys such as self-reporting, identifying pregnancy status, age range of childbearing women, 30-day reporting periods, and varying definitions of key terms need to be further examined to understand the full extent of the issue. Even though these surveys show increased use of alcohol and binge drinking, methodological and definitional issues may actually be resulting in underreporting of alcohol use during pregnancy.

The new FASD in Review describes the limitations and variations within these studies, and describes the significant implications for both policy and program development targeting the prevention of alcohol use during pregnancy. To read the full article, click here.

The Approach: The FASD Center’s Dan Dubovsky Featured in POPFASD’s eLearning Video Series

December 15, 2015

The Provincial Outreach Program for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (POPFASD), funded by the British Columbia Ministry of Education, seeks to increase the capacity of educators to meet the learning needs of students with FASD. They share current research, strategies, training, and resources in order to build capacity in school districts for students with FASD and their teachers.

As part of this effort, POPFASD provides a series of brief eLearning videos on various topics related to FASD. The latest video features the FASD Center’s FASD Specialist, Dan Dubovsky. Dan discusses the brain-based nature of FASD and the importance of understanding that individuals with an FASD process information differently.

To watch Dan’s video and the rest of the eLearning series, visit