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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2001 Feb;25(2):283-7.

Identifying maternal self-reported alcohol use associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle 98195, USA.



The incidence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) has been estimated at 1 to 3 per 1,000 live births. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) (which include FAS) are estimated to occur in about 1 in 100 births. Cessation of drinking during pregnancy can improve the outcome even if the unborn child is already affected. For individuals born with FASD, an early diagnosis appears to be a protective factor against secondary disabilities. A quick screening tool to identify newborn children at risk has been elusive.


A simple descriptive presentation is offered that shows where 36 individuals with FASD were found from among the many patterns and amounts of prenatal alcohol use that were reported by a sample of 1,439 pregnant women whose offspring were later examined within the first 7 years of life.


Individuals with FASD (i.e., those with FAS, fetal alcohol effects, alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder ) were found within two aggregates of alcohol scores that together recommend a set of three to four alcohol questions. Within this derivation sample, one scoring of the questions yields almost 78% sensitivity and 97% specificity for FASD. Another scoring of the same instrument yields 100% sensitivity with 90% specificity.


These new data may facilitate early identification of offspring who may be most in need of early intervention, namely those born with FASD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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