Special issue of the
International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research focuses on FASD
March 19, 2014 – A special issue of the open-access International Journal of Alcohol and Drug
Research on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is intended to increase
awareness of the negative effects of alcohol use in pregnancy and to improve
prevention, treatment and care for those living with FASD.
“In most countries, FASD is not well recognized by health
professionals,” says guest editor Dr. Svetlana (Lana) Popova, Senior Scientist in
the Social and Epidemiological Research Department at the Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health (CAMH). “If FASD were addressed more consistently and
effectively at the policy and program level, this would alleviate its burden on
individuals with FASD and their families, who require intensive support from
health, social and remedial education services, as well as on society as a
term FASD refers to a group of disorders in which alcohol exposure in pregnancy
causes damage to the central nervous system of the fetus as well as other
systems and organs. Individuals with FASD may have a broad array of physical
defects as well as cognitive, behavioural, emotional and learning problems.
These impairments are likely to have lifelong implications.
One reason for the lack of recognition of FASD is that,
despite more than 40 years’ worth of evidence, FASD is not officially
recognized as a medical diagnosis, write Dr. Popova and co–guest editor, Dr.
Christina Chambers of the University
of California at San
Diego (UCSD), in an editorial. After much effort, FASD was included in the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition(DSM-5) in
2013—but only in the appendix as a condition warranting further research. The International
Classification of Diseases (ICD) only recognizes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Yet FASD may be on the rise in coming years, due to increasing
rates of alcohol use, binge drinking and drinking during pregnancy among young
women in a number of countries, and the fact that the majority of pregnancies
in both developing and developed countries are unplanned, the editors note.
“FASD should be
recognized as a growing public health issue, as alcohol’s harmful effects on a
fetus represent many cases of preventable disability globally,” says Dr.
Chambers, Professor of Pediatrics and Family and
Preventive Medicine at UCSD. “The collection
of research studies in this special issue clearly
demonstrates the need for such recognition.”
In addition to the 11 original research papers in the current
issue, the journal published a previous special FASD issue with nine papers in November
2013. Some of the studies
in the current issue include the following:
- a survey of attitudes of women of child-bearing
age in Russia,
to develop initiatives to prevent alcohol use in pregnancy;
- changes in alcohol consumption during pregnancy
over 10 years;
- evaluation of a professional development program
for elementary school teachers working with children with FASD in British Columbia, Canada, which suggests it has a
positive effect on students’ academic achievement and classroom behaviour;
- assessing medical, neuropsychological and
educational outcomes among adoptive children in the U.S.,
with and without FASD, who had been previously institutionalized in Europe;
- substance abuse treatment participation and
completion among U.S. women
with and without FASD, with the goal of preventing “second-generation” FASD;
- evaluation of a screening tool, supporting its
use by family physicians in maternity clinics to identify; alcohol misuse,
mental health problems, lack of social support and other lifestyle issues, to
provide women with additional prenatal support;
- evaluation of an outreach program for Aboriginal
youth with suspected FASD in British Columbia,
which shows promising results; and
- prevalence of smoking during pregnancy and its relationship
with alcohol consumption among pregnant women in the Republic of Congo.
Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research, the journal of the KettilBruun Society
for Social and Epidemiological Research on Alcohol, is supported by Canada’s
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and funding from the U.S.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
For further information,
please contact Kate Richards, CAMH Media Relations at (416) 595-6015.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's
largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, and one of the world's
leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH
combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health
promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and
CAMH is fully affiliated with the University
and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization