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Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2004 Sep;18(5):344-51.

Fetal alcohol syndrome prevention in Washington State: evidence of success.

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1
Center on Human Development and Disability, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle WA, USA. astley@u.washington.edu

Abstract

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a permanent birth defect syndrome caused by maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. It is characterised by growth deficiency, central nervous system damage/dysfunction, and a unique cluster of minor facial anomalies. To assess the effectiveness of fetal alcohol syndrome prevention efforts, one must be able to estimate accurately the prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome over time in population-based samples. With the establishment of the Washington State Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic and Prevention Network of clinics, the development of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Facial Photographic Analysis Software, the creation of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) 4-Digit Diagnostic Code, the establishment of the Foster Care Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Screening Program, and the collection of Pregnancy Risk Assessment Management System data on maternal use of alcohol during pregnancy, the tools, methods and infrastructure for assessing the effectiveness of fetal alcohol syndrome primary prevention efforts in Washington State are in place. A cross-sectional study was conducted to determine whether the prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome among children in a foster care population, born between 1993 and 1998, decreased with the documented decrease in prevalence of maternal use of alcohol during pregnancy from 1993 and 1998 in Washington State. The prevalence of maternal drinking during pregnancy in Washington State declined significantly (P < 0.001) from 1993 to 1998 as did the prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome among foster children born 1993-98 (P < 0.03). These observations support the likelihood that fetal alcohol syndrome prevention efforts in Washington State are working successfully.

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