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New CDC Information Packet for National Birth Defects Prevention Month

December 15, 2014

In anticipation of the upcoming Birth Defects Prevention Month (January), the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) has released the 2015 National Birth Defects Prevention Month packet. The theme of the packet is “Making Healthy Choices to Prevent Birth Defects – Make a PACT for Prevention.”

The packet was developed in collaboration with many partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Teratology Society. The resources in the packet can be shared with colleagues, policy makers, families, and others during Birth Defects Prevention Month and throughout the year. NBDPN’s goal is to continue to increase awareness that birth defects are “Common, Costly and Critical” and to offer actionable steps that can be taken by professionals, community groups, and the public to prevent birth defects.

If you utilize the packet or any of its elements, the NBDPN is asking that you provide feedback as well as suggestions for future materials by completing an evaluation at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2015BDPMfeedback.


FASD Center for Excellence Continues to Update Navigation

December 15, 2014

This month, the SAMHSA FASD Center for Excellence continues the process of simplifying our website user experience. Last month, we announced the new ‘Products’ section on the homepage’s left-hand navigation. This month, we’re launching two more new sections:

  • ‘State Capacity’ (previously ‘State Systems’) contains our interactive map that can be used to identify FASD-related services and systems in each state, and also contains an overview of the National Association of FASD State Coordinators (NAFSC), including a roster of NAFSC’s current members; and
  • ‘Resources’ (previously ‘Links’) provides an extensive listing of federal, state, and local organizations as well as support groups that can assist individuals with an FASD and their families.

We invite you to explore the new sections and see how we’ve made important information easier to locate. And visit our streamlined ‘Products’ section to find and download our popular print and multimedia publications!


New “FASD in Review” Examines New FASD Prevalence Data

November 24, 2014

This month, FASD in Review examines an article published by Philip A. May, Ph.D., and colleagues in the November issue of Pediatrics, titled “Prevalence and Characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.”

The prevalence rates identified in this study, which examined first graders in a typical Midwestern city, suggest that diagnosable cases within the FASD spectrum may be closer to 4% of the general population vs. the previously estimated 1% commonly quoted. These findings, combined with the fact that so many pregnancies are unplanned and that many women do not recognize when they are first pregnant, hold significant implications for federal commitment to FASD research, training, prevention, and treatment.

Click here to read the new FASD in Review, which summarizes the new findings and discusses their implications for the FASD field.


FASD Center for Excellence Streamlines Navigation

November 24, 2014

The SAMHSA FASD Center for Excellence is always looking for ways to make the website user experience easier. Recently, we’ve eliminated two categories on the homepage’s left-hand navigation that were titled ‘Grab and Go’ and ‘Resources.’ These have been replaced by a section titled ‘Products.’ In addition, we’ve drastically reduced the number of flyouts from this category (additional navigational buttons that ‘fly out’ to the right of the main button when you move the cursor over it).

We invite you to explore the new ‘Products’ section and see how we’ve made our various resources easier to locate. And keep an eye on our homepage, as the FASD Center for Excellence will continue to make user-friendly improvements to the site!


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 http://www.thearc.org/FASD-Prevention-Project/resources/courses.


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.