New Research Suggests Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) May Be More Common than Autism

New Research Suggests Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) May Be More Common than Autism

Alcohol use during pregnancy can lead to FASDs, which are a range of conditions that can occur in individuals whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy. The manifestations of FASDs can include physical problems, issues with behavior and learning, or a combination of both.

In February, JAMA published a new study, “Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in 4 US Communities,” (May et. al. 2018) which supports the belief that FASDs are extremely underdiagnosed and in fact impact a large portion of the US population. The study calculated both conservative prevalence estimates of 1.1–5 percent and weighted prevalence estimates of 3.1–9.9 percent, suggesting that between 5 and 10 percent of first grade students in the United States may have FASDs. Comparatively, autism is a widely recognized developmental issue in the United States, estimated to impact 1.5 percent of US children. 

“This article highlights the population health burden of alcohol use during pregnancy — an issue that has not been adequately addressed. I hope that this paper and others will bring alcohol out from under the shadow of the opioid crisis,” said Dr. Mishka Terplan, District IV.

ACOG has been involved in FASD prevention efforts for many years and recommends that ob-gyns engage patients who are pregnant or may become pregnant in alcohol screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT). ACOG and the CDC both offer education, training, and additional resources to support ob-gyns’ FASD prevention efforts. Find more information on the ACOG FASD webpage or access the CDC trainings directly.

ACOG Trainings in Partnership with the University of Missouri 

Part I: The Role of the Ob-Gyn in the Prevention of FASD  
Part II: Alcohol SBI Training for the Health Care Professional
*Please contact Lily Penney at [email protected] or (202) 863-2502 with any questions.