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MMWR Recomm Rep. 2005 Oct 28;54(RR-11):1-14.

Guidelines for identifying and referring persons with fetal alcohol syndrome.

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  • 1National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, 1600 Clifton Road NE, MS E-86, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.

Erratum in

  • MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2006 May 26;55(20):568.


Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) results from maternal alcohol use during pregnancy and carries lifelong consequences. Early recognition of FAS can result in better outcomes for persons who receive a diagnosis. Although FAS was first identified in 1973, persons with this condition often do not receive a diagnosis. In 2002, Congress directed CDC to update and refine diagnostic and referral criteria for FAS, incorporating recent scientific and clinical evidence. In 2002, CDC convened a scientific working group (SWG) of persons with expertise in FAS research, diagnosis, and treatment to draft criteria for diagnosing FAS. This report summarizes the diagnostic guidelines drafted by the SWG, provides recommendations for when and how to refer a person suspected of having problems related to prenatal alcohol exposure, and assesses existing practices for creating supportive environments that might prevent long-term adverse consequences associated with FAS. The guidelines were created on the basis of a review of scientific evidence, clinical expertise, and the experiences of families affected by FAS regarding the physical and neuropsychologic features of FAS and the medical, educational, and social services needed by persons with FAS and their families. The guidelines are intended to facilitate early identification of persons affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol so they and their families can receive services that enable them to achieve healthy lives and reach their full potential. This report also includes recommendations to enhance identification of and intervention for women at risk for alcohol-exposed pregnancies. Additional data are needed to develop diagnostic criteria for other related disorders (e.g., alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder).

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