Skip to main content

en Español

Ask the Expert


FASD in Review

In the News


New “Ask the Expert” Column Examines FASD Among Native Americans

November 14, 2014

In honor of November as Native American Heritage Month, this month’s Ask the Expert interviews the Honorable Anita Fineday. A member of the Minnesota-based White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Judge Fineday has devoted her career to improving the way of life for Native Americans. She served for many years as the Chief Judge for her tribe, and also helped to oversee the work of a subcontract with the SAMHSA FASD Center for Excellence which sought to better connect Native families dealing with substance abuse to needed treatment services.

Currently, Judge Fineday is the Managing Director of the Indian Child Welfare Program at Casey Family Programs in Seattle, the nation’s largest operating foundation focused on building Communities of Hope for children and families across America. For this month’s Ask the Expert, she discusses her career and the needs of Native communities in addressing FASD.

Click here to visit this and other recent Ask the Expert columns.

FREE FASD Online Learning Tools with Continuing Education Credits

November 14, 2014

Through The Arc’s FASD Prevention Program, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) has developed two online learning tools for health care professionals and providers on preventing FASD. The goal is to increase provider knowledge of the risks alcohol can pose to a fetus and encourage the use of FASD prevention strategies. The tools are free of charge, and continuing education credits are available for both physicians and nurses.

For more information or to register, visit

New FASD Prevalence Data Released

October 31, 2014

A newly published study finds that rates of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) among children may be significantly higher than previous estimates.

A research team headed by Philip A. May, Ph.D., studied more than 1,400 first graders in a Midwestern city. Their findings, published online by Pediatrics on October 27th (and also in the November 2014 print version of the journal), identify cases along the entire FASD spectrum in this general school population. Specifically, the rate of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) was found to be 6 to 9 cases per 1,000 children studied, and the prevalence of partial FAS (pFAS) cases ranged from 11 to 17 cases per 1,000. Total cases of any form of FASD ranged from 24 to 48 cases per 1,000.

This study suggests that diagnosable cases within the FASD spectrum may be far more common than older estimates have indicated. These include Dr. May’s own findings of 20091, which suggested that the overall prevalence of FASD in the general population was approximately 9.1 cases per 1,000, or 1%. If the new data are suggestive of changes in the overall FASD case rates, prevalence may be closer to 4%.

Click here to read a U.S. News & World Report article about the new study, and here to read a free abstract or purchase the article.

1. May, P. A., Gossage, J. P., Kalberg, W. O., Robinson, L. K., Buckley, D., Manning, M., & Hoyme, H. E. (2009). Prevalence and epidemiologic characteristics of FASD from various research methods with an emphasis on recent in-school studies. Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 15(3), 176-192.

Multiple Awareness Priorities Recognized in November

October 31, 2014

November marks the national recognition of several important issues: native heritage; adoption; and homelessness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other federal agencies provide a number of resources to help inform and raise awareness about these important issues.

National Native Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month. This month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories, and to acknowledge the contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people face, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to address these challenges.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs provides a detailed history of Native American Heritage Month and national efforts to honor American Indians and Alaska Natives.

National Adoption Month

November is also National Adoption Month. Since 1995, November has been set aside to raise awareness of the importance of adopting and fostering children and youth. The theme for 2014 is “Promoting and Supporting Sibling Connections.” Many children born with an FASD become foster children, sometimes repeatedly. Initiatives such as National Adoption Month help to spotlight the need for loving families to care for these and all children who are awaiting adoption, and also provide valuable information so that prospective parents can make informed decisions about the adoption process.

The Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hosts a website that highlights the 2014 initiative and provides a range of information about adoption for providers and prospective adoptive and foster families.

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month

Each November is also National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, approximately 610,000 people experienced homelessness on a single night in January 2013. Although this represents an overall national decrease of approximately 9 percent from homelessness figures of 2007, in 23 states and the District of Columbia cases of homelessness actually went up during that six-year period.

A variety of factors contribute to and result from homelessness, including lack of affordable housing, unemployment, and mental health and substance abuse issues. Individuals with an FASD have also been shown to be at a higher risk for experiencing homelessness during their lifetimes. To learn more about what SAMHSA and other agencies are doing to address this national issue, visit the SAMHSA Homelessness Resource Center.

SAMHSA FASD Center for Excellence Announces New Web Site Feature, FASD in Review

October 15, 2014

This month the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) FASD Center for Excellence (CFE) is launching a new website feature, FASD in Review. This page will include a review and discussion of news, research, policy articles, and other reports addressing FASD and alcohol prevention during pregnancy. In contrast to prior summaries of research, this feature is designed to provide more analytic reviews of new information available in the context of existing research, practice, and common knowledge. The aim of this approach is to provide the reader with a more comprehensive and contextual understanding of the findings and their impact on advancing efforts to prevent and address FASD.

The feature kicks off with a review of the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guide for implementing Screening and Brief Interventions (SBI) on: Planning and Implementing Screening and Brief Intervention for Risky Alcohol Use: A Step-by-Step Guide for Primary Care Practices.

Click here to learn more.

October "Ask the Expert" Features Interview with Kathy Mitchell of NOFAS

October 15, 2014

Ms. Kathleen Tavenner Mitchell

As a follow-up to our August interview with Emily Travis, past-member of the Expert Panel for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) FASD Center for Excellence (CFE) and an individual who has lived with FAS, Ask the Expert this month features an interview with Kathleen Tavenner Mitchell, Vice President and International Spokesperson for the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS), and the birth mother of a daughter who was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Ms. Mitchell provides her perspective on being the parent of a child with an FASD, and on her efforts to increase awareness of FASD and of the needs of women with substance use issues.

Click here to visit this and other recent Ask the Expert columns.

FASD Center Releases Materials from International FASD Awareness Day Webinar

September 30, 2014

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) FASD Center for Excellence (CFE), in partnership with MOFAS, is pleased to announce the release of supporting materials from the free Webinar Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) #58, Addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD): An Introduction. This Webinar was held on September 09, 2014 to mark the 15th anniversary of International FASD Awareness Day, and drew 347 participants from across the country. The Webinar featured:

  • Dan Dubovsky, M.S.W., Content Specialist for the SAMHSA FASD CFE, who provided background information on FASD and its causes and effects;
  • Sterling K. Clarren, M.D., FAAP, Co-Chair of TIP 58 and an esteemed FASD researcher, who discussed the development of the TIP, its contents, and its potential uses to expand or improve services in existing services; and
  • Ruth Richardson, J.D., Director of Programs for the Minnesota Organization on FAS (MOFAS), who moderated the discussions and a robust question-and-answer period.

Materials from this Webinar, including the main PowerPoint presentation as well as a transcript and a video file, can be downloaded for free on its overview page. Materials from other SAMHSA FASD CFE Webinars can be accessed on our general Webinar page.

FASD Center Announces New FASD Prevention Resources

September 15, 2014

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) FASD Center for Excellence (CFE) is pleased to announce two new resources highlighting FASD prevention strategies –

  1. Planning and Implementing Screening and Brief Intervention for Risky Alcohol Use: A Step-by-Step Guide for Primary Care Practices was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. SBI entails health professionals asking patients a few short questions to identify drinking patterns, followed by a brief conversation about these patterns and referral to treatment if needed. This guide is an important tool to help primary care practices implement SBI to reduce the burden of health problems associated with excessive alcohol use.
  2. Implementing CHOICES in Clinical Settings That Serve American Indian and Alaska Native Women of Childbearing Age was developed by the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) as part of a Cooperative Agreement between CDC and NOFAS. CHOICES is a CDC-funded prevention program targeting non-pregnant women at risk of having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy. This report outlines a three-phase implementation plan to place CHOICES in clinical practices serving American Indian and Alaska Native women of childbearing age.

We encourage you to utilize and share these important resources to help make SBI and CHOICES a routine part of health care. In addition, we would like to share updated information on our FASD Prevention Programs. From 2008-2013, the SAMHSA FASD CFE funded 25 FASD prevention programs through a subcontract mechanism. The programs were funded to achieve the following goal: Decrease the incidence of FASD by eliminating alcohol consumption by pregnant and postpartum women and reducing the risk of alcohol-exposed pregnancies among women of childbearing age by implementing either SBI or CHOICES.

We invite you to review our FASD Prevention Programs for more information on each of these programs.