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Identification of children with fetal alcohol syndrome and opportunity for referral of their mothers for primary prevention--Washington, 1993-1997

, : Identification of children with fetal alcohol syndrome and opportunity for referral of their mothers for primary prevention--Washington, 1993-1997. Mmwr. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 47(40): 861-864

Heavy maternal use of alcohol during pregnancy can cause permanent birth defects, including fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Although these alcohol-related defects are entirely preventable, the factors associated with maternal use of alcohol during pregnancy are complex and often resistant to change. In addition, not all women who drink heavily will produce children with FAS. Although targeting primary prevention efforts to all women at risk for drinking during pregnancy is ideal, limited resources require targeting women at the highest risk for producing children affected by prenatal alcohol exposure. One such population is women who have already given birth to an alcohol-affected child. This high-risk population is not easily identified because not all children with FAS have their condition diagnosed, and these birth mothers are often separated from their children during the first few years of the child's life, often before a diagnosis of FAS has been considered. However, once identified, these women are receptive to intervention. To identify a population of women at highest risk for a future alcohol-exposed pregnancy through diagnosing a previously affected birth child, researchers at the University of Washington developed the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic and Prevention Network (FAS DPN). This report summarizes the results of this program and documents the feasibility of identifying persons who may have FAS so their condition can be diagnosed and their birth mothers can be identified and referred to prevention services.


PMID: 9790662

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