Knowledge Improvement on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders among Community Members.

Author:Washio, Yukiko

Dear Editor:

Prenatal exposure to alcohol can cause pregnancy, birth, and neonatal complications, including miscarriage, low birth weight, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong disorders including fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). FASD is one of the leading causes of physical, intellectual, and behavioral disorders and birth defects in U.S.; however, FASD is completely preventable if a woman does not drink during pregnancy (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). There is no known safe amount, time, or type of alcohol use during pregnancy, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommend that women do not drink any alcohol during pregnancy (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016).

Despite the adverse effect from prenatal drinking, the rate of past month alcohol use and binge drinking has increased in 2017 from 2016 among pregnant women (i.e., 8.3% to 11.5%; 4.3% to 5.2%) in the U.S. (Center for Behavioral Health Statistics, 2018). Large disparities exist in prenatal alcohol use with 24% of low-income pregnant women reporting prenatal alcohol use (O'Connor & Whaley, 2003). Although establishing exact rates of FASD can be challenging due to the broad range and severity of symptoms encompassed within the spectrum--some of which do not manifest for several months--the incidence of FASD is estimated to be at least 9 per 1,000 births in the U.S. (Waterman, Pruett, & Caughey, 2013).

The annual economic cost of FASD to the U.S. healthcare system is more than $6 billion, and an individual with FASD could cost the country up to $2 million because long-term intensive medical, educational, and social services are required to assist individuals with FASD throughout their lifetime (Lupton, Burd, & Harwood, 2004). Thus, in response to these societal consequences from FASD, a broad range of strategies from prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of FASD become imperative. Specific strategies include policy change, public awareness/education, professional education/training, screening and identification, treatment and services, and data and surveillance (Onoye & Thompson, 2017).

Recent qualitative work showed that dedicated human resource and capacity building to provide community-based education and training, extend collaborative networks with experts, professionals, community organizations, and other local agencies, and establish local surveillance infrastructure, can be a model for impacting the community to increase awareness on FASD (Onoye & Thompson, 2017). The Delaware FASD Task Force initiated a comprehensive approach to increase awareness on FASD and improve professional and community services available for prevention and treatment of FASD in Delaware. This study reports preliminary results of a recently conducted community survey on FASD knowledge at various community organizations as part of the comprehensive initiative by the Delaware state (delete) FASD Task Force.

The survey was conducted between January 2018 and April 2019 by a prevention specialist on addiction and FASD (D.O.) in...

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