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February 2004 to March 2007

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March 19, 2007

Winnipeg study shows 10% of inmates are victims of fetal alcohol

A study of 91 inmates at Stony Mountain penitentiary found 10 per cent have some form of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder -- 10 times the incidence in the general population.

University of Manitoba faculty of medicine researcher Dr. Ab Chudley is the first to study the incidence of FASD in an adult prison population.
"There are numbers floating around, but no one has done the research among adult offenders," said Patricia MacPherson, research manager with the Correctional Service of Canada's addictions research centre. She helped conduct the 18-month study among offenders under age 30. "This is the first of its kind anywhere worldwide."

FASD is believed to be responsible for a range of behavioural problems, including difficulty understanding the consequences of actions, hyperactivity, lack of motivation, social awkwardness and depression.

U.S. studies indicate about one per cent of the general population has FAS. A study of juvenile prisoners in B.C. indicated 23 per cent had some degree of fetal-alcohol impairment, Chudley said.

Posted by fasstar at 05:32 PM CST

March 17, 2007

Drinking During Pregnancy Possible Male-Infertility Factor

The most common male-genital birth defect is undescended testicles, affecting about 3 percent of boys born in the United States. A few risk factors have been identified, but researchers have generally puzzled over the cause of the problem. Now, a new study has revealed an unexpected risk factor. Regular alcohol consumption during pregnancy appears to triple the risk that a woman's son will have the condition, Ida Damgaard and her colleagues report in the February 2007 Environmental Health Perspectives. Their article appeared online Dec. 4, 2006.

Posted by fasstar at 07:05 PM CST

March 10, 2007

Cholesterol Could Be Key To Treating Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Small amounts of alcohol can interfere with the growth of a fetus, but added cholesterol may help prevent a wide array of neurological and physical defects from alcohol exposure, according to a new study in laboratory fish.

Cholesterol is so important to fetal development that pregnant women who do not have high enough cholesterol levels are at increased risk of having babies with developmental problems, even without consuming alcohol. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center, led by Yin-Xiong Li, MD., Ph.D., found that alcohol, even in small amounts, blocks the ability of cholesterol to orchestrate the complex series of events involved in regulating cell fates and organ development in the embryo.

What alcohol does is interfere with a precisely orchestrated biochemical signaling pathway that guides fetal development. Cholesterol is essential for a single pathway that governs the pattern of tissue development and it is vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. "Even the equivalent of one 12-ounce beer, consumed at the wrong time, could disrupt the signaling pathway and lead to a defect."

Posted by fasstar at 04:55 PM CST

March 1, 2007

Choline vitamin may help alcohol-damaged babies

Giving a vitamin called choline to babies whose mothers drank too much alcohol while pregnant might help overcome some of their resulting deficits, U.S researchers said on Thursday.

Choline, found in peanut butter, iceberg lettuce and soy, among other foods, affects brain development and may help repair some of the damage done by alcohol, the team at San Diego State University found.

Posted by fasstar at 04:17 PM CST

February 20, 2007

Wigan Today Wigan news - Inmates 'hindered by low IQ levels'

The majority of inmates at Hindley Prison have below-average IQ, according to a new study.

Some 84% of the sample reported problematic drug or alcohol misuse and 85% had been excluded from school. Of these, 37.1% had been excluded from school on more than 10 occasions... Many are victimised and bullied in prison.

Note: This article is about individuals with FASD, even though FASD is not mentioned. Although this news report depicts typical FASD symptoms and many secondary disabilities, prental alcohol exposure is not considered as a factor. -Teresa

Posted by fasstar at 11:33 AM CST

February 3, 2007

'Don't drink' message can backfire on FAS, experts say

A blunt and seemingly common-sense approach to fetal alcohol syndrome may not work, and worse, may backfire, health experts say.

"I used to think that it was enough just to tell a woman 'you shouldn't drink when you're pregnant,' " said Elizabeth Dawson, a Health Canada nurse in Happy Valley-Goose Bay who chairs a committee in Labrador on FAS prevention.

She admits that she, like many health-care providers, took a narrow approach to the complex problems of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

However, Dawson said the "just don't drink" message often backfires as it lowers some women's self-esteem and makes existing problems worse.

Posted by fasstar at 06:58 PM CST

January 26, 2007

Proposed law would criminalize FAS in New Mexico

New Mexico Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, has introduced a bill that would establish a new crime for women who give birth to babies with fetal alcohol syndrome.

The proposed crime would be a misdemeanor, unless the child dies. In that case, it would be a second-degree felony. Prosecution would require a physician's medical finding through clinical tests that must include three facial abnormalities; prenatal or postnatal weight or height under the 10th percentile; and central nervous system abnormalities.

Garcia, a retired educator with 32 years of experience, said she is well aware of the struggles faced by children with fetal alcohol syndrome, which is caused by excessive drinking during pregnancy.

"I've always taught my students personal responsibility, and I think this bill will let mothers with alcohol addictions know that they must be responsible for providing their child with a healthy start in life," Garcia said.

Posted by fasstar at 09:57 AM CST

January 25, 2007

Research links cholesterol to prevention of prenatal effects of alcohol

U.S. medical researchers have found cholesterol supplementation prevents fetal alcohol spectrum defects in alcohol-exposed zebra fish embryos.

The Duke University Medical Center study by Yin-Xiong Li and colleagues details the mechanism and prevention of fetal alcohol defects and has implications for potential preventative prenatal intervention.

Experts estimate approximately 100 babies are born daily suffering from alcohol related defects that include abnormalities such as neurological, craniofacial, and cardiac malformations.

Using the zebra fish model, the researcher found alcohol interferes with embryonic development by disrupting cholesterol-dependent activation of a critical signaling molecule, called sonic hedgehog. They also showed cholesterol supplementation of the alcohol-exposed embryos restored the functionality of the molecular pathway and prevented development of such defects.

In addition, the authors report alcohol related-like defects in zebra fish resulted from minimal fetal alcohol exposure, equivalent to a 120-pound woman drinking one 12-ounce bottle of beer.

The findings suggest even small amounts of alcohol might be unsafe for pregnant women and also indicate cholesterol supplementation may be a potential means to prevent fetal alcohol defects.

Posted by fasstar at 08:38 AM CST

January 12, 2007

Counseling reduces binge drinking in at-risk women

Targeted counseling techniques may help women at risk of harmful behaviors such as binge drinking, unreliable contraception methods, or drinking during pregnancy, a recent study showed. is greatly reduced after a few counseling sessions using a technique known as motivational interviewing (MI).

The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and was conducted at six sites in Virginia, Texas and Florida with 830 women. Initially, it was designed to reduce the incidence and risk of alcohol-exposed pregnancy before conception.

"We demonstrated that using motivational counseling can have a major impact, even on behaviors that are considered difficult to change, such as binge drinking," lead researcher Dr. Karen Ingersoll said in a recent news release. "While our main goal was to reduce the risk of alcohol-exposed pregnancy, ours was the first multi-site study to show that motivational counseling can be effective when targeting more than one health behavior, in this case, both drinking and contraception habits, among women who were not seeking help to change."

Posted by fasstar at 03:55 PM CST

January 2, 2007

Young man with FAS dies - 'Awful waste of life'

The adoptive parents of a 23-year-old man who died Christmas Day in a mysterious drug-related death are left to wonder what more they could've done.

Dorothy said her son, who suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and was developmentally challenged, needed a structured and supportive environment to keep him on track after he moved out. "He wanted to be independent," she said. "The street community became his home."

Although she admits she doesn't have all the answers, Dorothy said more needs to be done or else "more 23-year-olds are going to die."

"He was lured by the streets. He just didn't know any better," friend Herb Molson, 38, said outside the church. "It was an awful waste of life to have a good kid go that way."

"It wasn't difficult to like Max," eulogized his uncle, Bob Gray, who praised Max for tackling the challenges he faced. "I wish this story had a happy ending."

Related story: Max Reid Story

Posted by fasstar at 10:22 AM CST

January 1st, 2007

Early Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Alters Stress Response in Infants

Animal studies have shown that prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) is linked to alterations in the stress response systems. To date, little is known about the impact of PAE on stress systems in human infants. The current study examined PAE effects on the stress response.

Our sample included fifty-five 5- to 7-month-old infants whose mothers were enrolled in an alcohol intervention study. Measures of maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy and after delivery were obtained using Timeline Followback interviewing methods. Relationships between prenatal alcohol consumption and infant outcomes were examined.

Mothers enrolled in our study reported significant reductions in alcohol consumption after learning of their pregnancies. Nevertheless, PDD from conception to pregnancy recognition was related to increases in cortisol reactivity, elevated heart rate, and negative affect in their infants.

Greater PAE was related to greater activation of stress response systems. This work supports the possibility that PAE is related to alterations in infant stress systems, which could underlie problems in cognitive and social–emotional functioning that are common among persons exposed prenatally to alcohol.

Related news report: Prenatal Alcohol Increases Stress Response in Infants

Posted by fasstar at 10:22 AM CST

December 30, 2006

Brain Metabolic Alterations in Adolescents and Young Adults With FASD

Background: Prenatal alcohol exposure affects brain structure and function. This study examined brain metabolism using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and searched for regions of specific vulnerability in adolescents and young adults prenatally exposed to alcohol.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that prenatal alcohol exposure alters brain metabolism in a long-standing or permanent manner in multiple brain areas. These changes are in accordance with previous findings from structural and functional studies. Metabolic alterations represent changes in the glial cell pool rather than in the neurons.

Posted by fasstar at 08:36 AM CST

CDC Study: Counseling Helps Young Women Cut Drinking, Improve Contraception Use

A few nonjudgmental counseling sessions can prompt women to both scale back risky drinking and practice more effective contraception, according to a new study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conducted at six sites in Texas, Virginia and Florida.

Prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities in the United States. This CDC study explored a strategy that could reduce a woman's risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.

%u201CA lot of people find this to be an intuitive and sensible approach,%u201D said lead study author Louise Floyd. %u201CIf a woman drinks frequently or binge drinks even occasionally, this is not the best time for her to get pregnant, for her or the baby. So why not advocate that she postpone pregnancy until her drinking is reduced?%u201D

The study appears in the January issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study tested the effectiveness of motivational interviewing — a kind of supportive yet goal-oriented therapy — to encourage the women to adjust their excessive drinking and ineffective contraception habits.

“What we were able to do was to help the women become aware that they were at risk, and subsequently they made decisions to change their risk behavior,” said Floyd, chief of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Prevention Team at the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

Posted by fasstar at 08:31 AM CST

December 28, 2006

No Mention of Fetal Alcohol Risk in News Report

Drinking Has Hidden Health Risks for Women

Toasting the new year with an alcoholic beverage is probably good for your health -- if you're a man. If you're a woman, the impact of that glass of alcohol is far more confusing.

Overall, science shows that for both men and women, drinking a small amount of alcohol each day is better for you than never drinking at all, and it likely lowers your risk of heart attack, diabetes and mental decline. But for women, moderate alcohol consumption also carries risks you may not know about.

[FASD Blog Note: There is no mention in the entire article about the risk of alcohol during pregnancy. A letter to the editor (included in this link) brings this to the attention of the report]

Posted by fasstar at 10:13 AM CST

December 22, 2006

Sobering Thoughts: Town Hall Report Published in American Journal of Public Health

Prenatal exposure to alcohol is one of the leading causes of preventable birth defects and developmental disabilities. During the past 30 years, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), including fetal alcohol syndrome, have gradually begun to attract attention. However, awareness and understanding of the disorders remain low, and people who are affected are seriously underserved.

The FASD Center for Excellence held a series of town hall meetings in 2002 and 2003 to gauge the issues surrounding FASD nationwide. On the basis of its findings, the center proposed a series of recommendations to begin to remedy some of the deficiencies that were identified

Read Arizona's Town Hall Report Here:

Posted by fasstar at 05:45 PM CST

December 18, 2006

Accuracy of the Diagnosis of FAS by Pediatricians After Specialized Training

Accurate and early diagnosis of the fetal alcohol syndrome is important for secondary prevention, intervention, and treatment, yet many pediatricians lack expertise in recognition of the characteristic features of this disorder. After a structured training program for pediatricians, we examined the ability to accurately diagnose fetal alcohol syndrome. After a relatively short training session, pediatricians were reasonably accurate in diagnosing fetal alcohol syndrome on the basis of physical features and in recognizing most of the selected specific features associated with the disorder.

Posted by fasstar at 10:52 AM CST

December 7, 2006

Prevalence of Neonates Affected by Alcohol in Utero Has Declined in U.S.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Dec 05 - Fewer infants in the U.S. than a decade earlier receive an ICD-9 code for in utero alcohol effects. Investigators say that while this is partly due to a more selective use of code 760.71, it appears that there is also a true decrease in the number of infants affected by alcohol in utero.

Posted by fasstar at 11:56 AM CST

November 20, 2006

Eva Carner Raise Awareness About FASD

More than two decades ago, Eva Carner promised a frightened 4-year-old foster child with brown eyes and sandy blond hair that she would never abandon him.
The boy, Ricki Nelson, is now 29. Dealing with his developmental delays and emotional challenges from fetal alcohol syndrome has cost Carner her financial stability and caused numerous upheavals in her family over the years.

"A lot of people tell me I could have been a bright young man, on my own, with my own apartment and a career, if my (birth) mom didn't drink," Nelson said from the Murrieta home he shares with Carner.

Carner uses her experiences to lecture and distributes information on behalf of Arc Riverside, a private nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of developmentally disabled people.

She said Ricki came to her with a history of abuse and neglect. It took years of research and tests for her to understand that more than mental-health issues were responsible for his problems.

Nelson now works part-time as an event disc jockey, and Carner hopes that he will be able to move into a group home someday, perhaps even marry. But he will always require a full-time caregiver, she said.

Posted by fasstar at 03:23 PM CST

November 19, 2006

Queen's-led network looks at FAS with goal of minimizing life-long learning problems (press release)

For the first time researchers are testing to see whether fetal exposure to methanol, a contaminant found in many alcoholic beverages, plays an important role in causing the life-long learning and behavioural problems associated with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

By understanding fetal brain injury caused by exposure to methanol and related toxins, an emerging team of researchers is laying the groundwork for potential new therapeutic interventions to protect fetuses at risk for FASD.

%u201CThe main goal will always be prevention of FASD,%u201D says lead researcher James Reynolds, Queen%u2019s University professor of Toxicology and Pharmacology, %u201Cbut we also have to develop strategies to minimize injury to the developing fetus and individualize earlier therapeutic interventions for children with pre-natal exposure to alcohol.%u201D

Posted by fasstar at 10:18 PM CST

November 18, 2006

Is a Little Drinking During Pregnancy OK?

Actress Rachel Weisz reignited a controversy about drinking during pregnancy when she recently said that it was fine to have an occasional glass of wine after the first trimester, sparking condemnation from some health experts.

ABC News reported Nov. 15 that while the consensus among medical professionals is that pregnant women should avoid alcohol, some obstetricians say that a few glasses of wine per week won't do any harm. Research shows that about 12 percent of pregnant women continue to drink socially.

In addition to Weisz, celebrities Gwyneth Paltrow and Britney Spears have come under fire for drinking during their pregnancies. "If you're pregnant and you drink alcohol in any amount, you take a risk that it could be causing harm to the fetus," said Tom Donaldson, the president of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS). "Why play Russian Roulette with your baby's health? We say abstain from alcohol if you're pregnant or could be pregnant."

Posted by fasstar at 07:14 PM CST

November 17, 2006

Church of England supports baby euthanasia

THE Church of England has joined one of Britain%u2019s royal medical colleges in calling for legal euthanasia of seriously disabled newborn babies.

Church leaders want doctors to be given the right to withhold treatment from seriously disabled newborn babies in exceptional circumstances.

Posted by fasstar at 05:17 PM CST

November 8, 2006

ADHD Related to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Which medications should be used for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)?

Dr. Martin Hoffman responds: These children often experience multiple cognitive and behavioral issues... behaviors are among the most common problems for these children. A recent large review of charts from a referral center found 41% of FAS children to have ADHD... It is my clinical experience... that the typical ADHD medications often work, but that these children may have difficult and/or unusual reactions. I typically use a long-acting stimulant, starting with low doses and titrating fairly quickly. Final doses vary greatly.

Posted by fasstar at 05:37 PM CST

November 6, 2006

Key neural system at risk from fetal alcohol exposure

MADISON - In a study of adult monkeys who were exposed to moderate amounts of alcohol in utero, scientists have found that prenatal exposure to alcohol - even in small doses - has pronounced effects on the development and function later in life of the brain's dopamine system, a critical component of the central nervous system that regulates many regions of the brain.

Writing in the current issue (Sept. 15, 2005) of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, a team of researchers led by Mary L. Schneider, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of occupational therapy and psychology, reports that when a monkey exposes her fetus to alcohol by drinking, the dopamine system of her offspring is altered. Effects on that key neural system, according to the study's results, can manifest themselves up to five years after birth, when the monkeys are fully grown.

The influence of alcohol on the dopamine system, depending on the timing of exposure during gestation, varies, says Schneider, but illustrates yet another biological consequence of drinking while pregnant.

"It appears that there is no safe time to drink," says the Wisconsin researcher. "And because our study looked at the effects of lower doses of alcohol than most previous studies, the results suggest there is no safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy. Even moderate drinking can have effects that persist to adulthood."

Posted by fasstar at 09:56 AM CST

November 5, 2006

Deficits associated with prenatal alcohol exposure can be seen as early as infancy

Alcohol-exposed babies respond more slowly to their environment, and take longer to calm down

* Most of the research on prenatal alcohol exposure has been conducted with children.

* A new study uses heart-rate data collected from six-month-old babies to examine the effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

* Even as early as infancy, slower processing speeds and arousal-regulation problems are apparent.

Most of the research on arousal and attention deficits caused by prenatal alcohol exposure has been conducted with children. An innovative new study, published in the March issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, examines different components of attention through use of heart-rate data collected from six-month-old infants whose mothers drank during pregnancy. The findings indicate that slower processing speeds and arousal-regulation problems exist as early as infancy.

Posted by fasstar at 11:33 PM CST

November 2, 2006

Drunk and disorderly: Women in UK are worst binge drinkers in world

Women in England and Ireland are officially the world's biggest binge
drinkers, according to a unique study of global alcohol consumption. One in
three 17- to 30-year-olds is now classed as a heavy drinker, bingeing on
four or more drinks in one session at least once a fortnight.

These disturbing figures are 11 times higher than those of Germany and
Italy, prompting warnings that record numbers of women face liver damage and
premature death unless they curb their alcohol consumption.

Posted by fasstar at 02:11 PM CST

November 1, 2006

Fetal ASD: An Overview with Emphasis on Changes in Brain and Behavior

Riley and McGee 230 (6): 357 -- Experimental Biology and Medicine

Heavy prenatal alcohol exposure can severely affect the physical and neurobehavioral development of a child. Autopsy and brain imaging studies indicate reductions and abnormalities in overall brain size and shape, specifically in structures such as the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and corpus callosum. A wide range of neuropsychological deficits have been found in children prenatally exposed to alcohol, including deficits in visuospatial functioning, verbal and nonverbal learning, attention, and executive functioning. These children also exhibit a variety of behavioral problems that can further affect their daily functioning. Children exposed to alcohol prenatally, with and without the physical features of fetal alcohol syndrome, display qualitatively similar deficits. Determining the behavioral phenotypes that result from heavy prenatal alcohol exposure is critical, because the identification of these children is crucial for early interventions. In addition, knowing which brain areas are involved might enable the development of better intervention strategies.

Posted by fasstar at 10:21 AM CST

October 25, 2006

Fetal Drug Effects: Research Report

Pediatric neurologist C.A Chiriboga of Columbia University in NewYork reports:

Most adverse effects of prenatal drug exposure are self-limited, with catch-up growth and resolution of withdrawal and of prior neurobehavioral abnormalities noted over time. The exception is alcohol, which is linked to life-long impairments (i.e., mental retardation and microcephaly) and possibly cigarette-related behavioral effects.

Posted by fasstar at 01:15 PM CST

October 10, 2006

US Senator Barbara Boxer Cosponsors FASD Bill

Clearly, our nation needs to do more to prevent prenatal exposure to alcohol. That is why I am cosponsoring S.1722, a comprehensive and bipartisan bill intended to help prevent and treat these disorders. The bill would establish programs of prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome with better education and public awareness programs; establish better education programs for affected children; educate officials in adoption, foster care, and the criminal justice system on how to better assist individuals with the disorder; provide for transitional services for such individuals; and provide respite care for their caretakers.

This bill is a wise use of federal funding because, in the end, it would save the billions of dollars currently used to treat those who suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and related diseases. It also makes sense because, in the future, more children will live happier, healthier lives. I am pleased to cosponsor S.1722 and will work for its passage.

Posted by fasstar at 06:18 PM CST

Great Falls MT Schools To Screen First Graders for FASD

Clinicians soon will screen some first-graders in Great Falls Public Schools for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

The tests, part of a research project with the University of New Mexico, will require parental approval.

Philip May, Ph.D, said Tuesday that researchers selected Great Falls for several reasons — and not because researchers have expectations of high occurrences in the area.

"Most school systems are dealing with these issues and either don't know it or don't have verification of what they're dealing with," May said.

The goal is to learn the developmental issues that confront first-grade children in a typical American town, he said. Research is funded by a grant from NIAAA.

Posted by fasstar at 06:01 PM CST

FASD Victom of Choking Game

Adam Denson loved to laugh and could always bring a smile to those around him. Although the 19-year-old Corbett resident had a hard time in school and endured his share of drug- and alcohol-related struggles, the generally happy-go-lucky teen had recently kicked his addictions and was trying to turn his life around.

Adam, who had fetal alcohol syndrome when he was adopted, had been in counseling and was getting help for substance abuse problems. He had promised his mother that he wouldn’t drink or do drugs again. His parents believe he had a hard day and was looking for a way to relax but didn’t think through the potential consequences of his actions.

“He was a kid that couldn’t think ahead,” Bob Denson said.

Despite his struggles, Adam was looking ahead, his family said. He was planning to attend the Springdale Job Corps and wanted to be a chef.

“(He was) always trying to do right, but got twisted and ended up doing something wrong unintentionally,” DuFresne said.

Posted by fasstar at 04:49 PM CST

March of Dimes Report on Birth Defects

About eight million children are born each year with a serious birth defect, and at least 3.3 million under the age of five die annually because the abnormalities, the March of Dimes said Monday.

The report, called Global Report on Birth Defects: The Hidden Toll of Dying and Disabled, said the majority of deadly or disabling birth defects are genetic or partly genetic in origin.

Hundreds of thousands of others are born with serious birth defects after their mothers were exposed to infectious diseases such as measles and syphilis, or environmental agents like alcohol.

Posted by fasstar at 04:12 PM CST

August 7, 2006

Series from the Ottawa Citizen

Tragic Hangover: Family paid heavy toll

In the 17 years he spent with his adoptive family, Tom brought some happiness. But mostly he stretched his parents and four siblings to the edge of what was humanly bearable. Tom acted out, disobeyed, manipulated, stole and threatened. He was incapable of following even simple rules, and he was relentlessly unpredictable and at times violent.

"My kids have been to hell and back"

"When I got the kids, I had no idea they were FASD-affected... I couldn't figure out what was wrong with them. I had been around other children that are mentally challenged, and I was reasonably knowledgeable about the types and degrees of different disabilities. But this was a mystery. I kept asking people what they thought was wrong. Everyone said they just seemed weird."

Most Canadians are unaware of fetal alcohol's devastating effects

Although Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is highly preventable and costs Canadians nearly $350 million a year, most Canadians and many health professionals remain unaware of the devastating affects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Posted by fasstar at 10:47 AM CST

August 5, 2006

Can warning labels in Canada cure baby's hangover?

To Paul Szabo, warning people to not drink and drive or drink during pregnancy should be a no brainer.

After all, over-imbibing is a leading cause of traffic deaths and responsible for birth defects as well as learning and behavioural disorders that increase the risk of criminality in later life...

"Beverage alcohol is the only consumer product that can harm you and does not warn you about that fact," Mr. Szabo says.

"It is not possible to prove it one way," he says of warning labels' efficacy. "I've often said, this can't hurt but it could help."

"It's a children's issue," Mr. Szabo says, citing a parliamentary report that identified fetal alcohol effects as a preventable tragedy back in 1992. "One incidence of binge drinking at the wrong time could be enough."

Posted by fasstar at 01:58 PM CST

August 3, 2006

He's under control for now - and begging for help

Neil Fahlman is under no illusions about where he would be without government support.

The 19-year-old suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome, attention deficit disorder and pervasive developmental disorder. He's big, burly and, if left to his own devices, tends to make impulsive decisions that get him into trouble with police.

Posted by fasstar at 02:26 PM CST

Criminals from the bottle

Thirty per cent of young offenders have brain damage caused by their mothers' drinking while pregnant, say experts who work in the criminal justice system.

And precious little is being done to prevent youth with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders from becoming chronic, repeat offenders as adults, they add.

The results of a one-day "snapshot" study of 500 Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley youth on probation showed that 30.4 per cent of the youth either had a previous FASD diagnosis or had signs of, and family histories consistent with, FASD, The Province has learned.

Posted by fasstar at 11:05 AM CST

July 19, 2006

US Senate Supports FASD Awareness Day 2006

On July 12, the Senate approved, by unanimous consent, a resolution (S. Res. 499) designating September 9, 2006, as “National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day.”

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), contains a number of findings, including:

* the incidence rate of fetal alcohol syndrome is estimated at 1 out of 500 live births and the incidence rate of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders is estimated at 1 out of every 100 live births;
* fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are the leading cause of mental retardation in western civilization, including the United States, and are 100 percent preventable;
* fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a major cause of numerous social disorders, including learning disabilities, school failure, juvenile delinquency, homelessness, unemployment, mental illness, and crime; and
* the economic cost of fetal alcohol syndrome alone to the nation was $5.4 billion in 2003 and it is estimated that each individual with fetal alcohol syndrome will cost taxpayers between $1.5 million and $3 million in his or her lifetime.

Sen. Murkowski said, “By abstaining from the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy a woman can be 100 percent certain that her baby will not be born with any of the conditions regarded as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Every day of the year we must remind women that no amount of alcohol consumed during pregnancy is safe for their baby. No alcohol during pregnancy is safe. None at all.”

Posted by fasstar at 10:43 PM CST

July 18, 2006

Mom Becomes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Advocate

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a disability few Americans dare talk about because of the attached social stigma.

But Kathleen Mitchell of Olney, Maryland, isn't afraid to talk. "I was only age 17 when pregnant with my second child in 1973," said Mitchell in a telephone interview from her Washington D.C. office where she is a NOFAS vice president and spokesperson.

Mitchell said, "I was overwhelmed with grief once I found out about my daughter having FAS. I've dealt with it by becoming an advocate and educating the public. I want to keep others from having to experience such tragic consequences because of (indulging in) a socially acceptable behavior. Alcohol is almost a rite of passage for some American woman."

Mothers often go years until doctors correctly diagnose a child, said Mitchell, and that delay means mothers may continue drinking alcohol during later pregnancies.
A recovering alcoholic herself, Mitchell advised, "It's never too late to stop drinking alcohol. If you learn you're pregnant, stop immediately. The longer you drink and expose the fetus, the higher the risk. If you're planning a pregnancy, don't ingest any alcohol."

Posted by fasstar at 01:13 PM CST

July 12, 2006

Nursing Interventions to Prevent Secondary Disabilities in FASD

Evidenced based review of FASD interventions: We undertook this review to answer the question, "What is the state of the evidence for nursing interventions to prevent secondary disabilities in children and families affected by FASD?" This was a necessary first step prior to developing effective interventions in this area. According to van Meijel, Gamel, van Swieten-Duijfjes, and Grypodonck (2004), identification of existing intervention practices is an extremely valuable and necessary aspect of developing evidence-based interventions.

Posted by fasstar at 12:01 PM CST

July 2, 2006

FASD symptoms seen in two-thirds of Toledo delinquents

Like most people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, Mauda often struggles with the higher reasoning skills that most of us take for granted.
Understanding complex directions, grasping abstract concepts, or linking action and consequence - rose "prickers" and pain, for example - can be difficult on some days and next to impossible on others.
"You teach them, [and] they get it today, but tomorrow it might be gone," said Pat Rose, manager at Double Arc's Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic Clinic in West Toledo.
"That's what's so frustrating for parents and teachers," she said. "It's, 'I know you know this.' "
A recent study by Double Arc, run by the Sisters of Notre Dame, suggests that 51 of 77 or two-thirds of youths at the Lucas County Youth Treatment Center over a two-year period may suffer from disorders related to prenatal alcohol exposure.
For those teens, the problem isn't so much that they won't follow directions or obey rules, but that they often can't, Mrs. Rose said.

Posted by fasstar at 08:20 PM CST

June 30, 2006

Identifying a Behavioral Phenotype in FASD

In most cases of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), the pathognomonic facial features are absent making diagnosis challenging, if not impossible, particularly when no history of maternal drinking is available. Also because FASD is often comorbid with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), children with FASD are frequently improperly diagnosed and receive the wrong treatment. Since access to psychological testing is typically limited or non-existent in remote areas, other diagnostic methods are needed to provide necessary interventions.Objectives: To determine if a characteristic behavioural phenotype distinguishes children with FASD from typically developing children and children with ADHD and use this information to create a screening tool for FASD diagnosis.Methods: Parents and caregivers completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), a well-established standardized tool for evaluating children's behavioural problems. Results from 30 children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disability, 30 children with ADHD, and 30 typically developing healthy children matched for age and socioeconomic status with FASD were analyzed. Based on our previous work, 12 CBCL items that significantly differentiated FASD and control groups were selected for further analyses. Stepwise discriminant function analysis identified behavioural characteristics most strongly differentiating groups and Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) curve analyses determined sensitivity and specificity of di

Posted by fasstar at 09:58 AM CST

June 20, 2006

Young Man With FAS Granted DD Services Based on Vineland

BC Dourt Ruling: Eligibility Criteria for DD Services Can No Longer Consider IQ

The courts have ruled Community Living British Columbia can't use IQ test results to decide who receives services for the developmentally disabled. In a judgment handed down on Monday, provincial Supreme Court Justice Eric Chamberlist found the Crown corporation - which restricts adult service access to those with IQs lower than 70 - doesn't have the statutory authority to use those results as a screener.

Speaking with Public Eye, New Democrat children and family development critic Adrian Dix called the ruling "one of the most significant in this area that we've ever seen and one that will have a profound impact on government policy" - opening doors for those have been denied access to community living services. "There are many, many, many cases of adults who clearly need those services - who need 24/7 care - who, not withstanding that, have relatively high IQs."

Posted by fasstar at 11:37 AM CST

June 2, 2006

What Alcohol Does to a Child

This June 6 issue of Time Magazine gives a weak and brief account of the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. I had problems with the opening statement that referred to "doctors still don't know what harm--if any--comes from light to moderate drinking during pregnancy" - just not strong enough. And the following is the closing statement:

About 45% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, says Dr. Raul Caetano of the Dallas campus of the University of Texas School of Public Health, a co-author of the second paper. A month may pass before a woman even realizes she is pregnant. "If you want to drink and you are sexually active, the best thing to do is to use contraception," Caetano says. "That's what I say to my daughter." And the best time to quit drinking is from the moment you--and your partner--decide you would like to conceive a child.

Actually, he should have advised use of effective contraception, which means use of a chemical method PLUS a barrier method, such as using the pill AND a condom, because use of just one means high risk of birth control failure, as high as 20% according to some studies. And the time to quit drinking is when one begins to be sexually active. Unless one is sterile or on the patch.

It's very unfortunate that Time Magazine passed by a chance to effectively address this issue in a way that might actually make a difference in prevention. Next time I hope the reporter consults with a real expert and collects some useful facts and reports on the credible research.

Posted by fasstar at 07:16 PM CST

May 19, 2006

Diagnostic clinic opens in NC

Failing to live up to other people’s expectations is a constant challenge for individuals growing up with fetal alcohol syndrome, said Teresa Kellerman, mother of an adopted son with the disorder.

“There’s this invisible gap between their apparent ability to function and their actual ability to function,” she said. “Once a diagnosis is made, you can help the family get the proper services.”

Kellerman was one of the parents surveyed before the creation of a new clinic at Mission Hospitals’ Fullerton Genetics Center, which is the state’s first clinic devoted to addressing fetal alcohol syndrome and related disorders. The clinic is part of a program that will provide outreach and education to families, patients and health professionals around Western North Carolina.

Posted by fasstar at 05:11 PM CST

May 1, 2006

Drinking During Pregnancy and the Risk of Childhood Leukemia

Results from the few studies that have examined the association between alcohol use during pregnancy and childhood leukemia are conflicting. Researchers in France aimed to clarify this association through a case-control study. Mothers of the studied children completed interviews that covered alcohol use during pregnancy and a range of other topics (e.g., medical history, family history of cancer).

Any maternal alcohol use, versus abstinence, during pregnancy was significantly associated with childhood acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL) and acute nonlymphoid leukemia (ANLL) in analyses adjusted for potential confounders (odds ratios 2.0 and 2.6, respectively). Results were similar for each alcoholic beverage type.

Posted by fasstar at 03:49 PM CST

April 24, 2006

Irish women drinking more during pregnancy

IRISH women are drinking more than ever during their pregnancies, in a trend described as "extremely concerning" by authors of a ground-breaking new study for the Government.

Researchers charted the smoking and drinking habits of 100,000 pregnant women over an 18-year period and found a shocking surge in the quantities of alcohol drunk by expectant mothers.

The report was presented to the Department of Health on Friday and is expected to form the cornerstone of future policy in this area.

The study will state that 82 per cent of expectant women in Ireland drink at some stage during their pregnancy compared to 22 per cent of women in America. While the numbers of alcoholic women drinking during pregnancy has not changed much in the past 18 years, the number of non-alcoholic women drinking during pregnancy and the amount they are drinking has shot up.

Posted by fasstar at 12:07 PM CST

April 1, 2006

Young Ohio man with FAS found incompetent

Disabled man held

While a judge tried to decide Wednesday what to do with the 20-year-old retarded man charged in the strangling of his roommate, the suspect said he just wanted to go home with his "mommy and daddy."

Edward "Teddy" Shuman, shackled and handcuffed, laid his head on a bailiff's shoulder while officials tried to explain that he had to go back to jail. The bailiff patted Shuman on his back in an attempt to console him as Shuman sobbed.

Wednesday, Fairfield Municipal Judge Joyce Campbell ordered a competency evaluation for Shuman after it became clear that Shuman didn't understand what was happening.

"I done nothing wrong," he told the judge. "I want to go home now."

He tried to reach out to his parents, who were sitting in the front of the courtroom. They never got to hug.

Bonnie and Thom Shuman - he a pastor; she a school aide in special education - said their son has been in and out of psychiatric wards, residential institutions and group homes since age 7, when he became uncontrollably violent.

The Greenhills couple adopted their son at 18 months. He was from Oklahoma. Sexually and physically abused as an infant, he didn't speak until he was 6.
He was later diagnosed with mental retardation, profound developmental disabilities, fetal alcohol syndrome and explosive behavior disorder. The explosive behavior disorder is the reason he has been repeatedly institutionalized, his parents said.

Posted by fasstar at 08:54 AM CST

March 26, 2006

Fetal Alcohol Screening ni MN

Fetal alcohol screening and prevention will become routine in Minneapolis at North Point Clinic and Community University Health Care Center. A new project will train staff to screen prenatal patients and will help to form links with chemical dependency treatment.

Alcohol use in pregnancy is the leading cause of offspring's mental retardation, according to the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The syndrome is brain damage that includes loss of impulse control, which leads many into lifelong trouble with drugs, alcohol and the law.

The new focus on screening will be covered by a five-year grant from the organization, which also is issuing grants for Ramsey and Washington counties through Stillwater-based Human Services Inc., also in Duluth, Staples, Meeker-McCleod-Sibley counties and the White Earth Reservation.

Posted by fasstar at 02:05 PM CST

Survey: A voice for the 'lost'

The mother of a teen who was murdered after he wound up wandering the streets when he was denied supervision by Child and Family Services is speaking out on behalf of eight other children killed last year while in government care.

"This has been happening far too much. One death is too much," Val Surbey said. "It breaks my heart. It really upsets me that these children die. (CFS) lost these kids."

Surbey's 17-year-old adopted son, Christopher, was stabbed to death June 6, 2005, after he wandered away from his "independent living" apartment in the Elmwood area of Winnipeg.

Christopher suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which like fetal alcohol syndrome is a disability caused when a mother drinks alcohol while pregnant, causing brain damage, meaning children can't act rationally, Surbey said.

Posted by fasstar at 02:01 PM CST

NOFAS Hill Day Benefit June 5-7

NOFAS has nearly a full week of activities scheduled in Washington, D.C. for the first full week of June. Beginning Monday evening, June 5, NOFAS will host a reception for affiliates and advocates participating in this year%u2019s activities.
The NOFAS Affiliate Summit will convene Tuesday morning among the eight original affiliates and as many as fifteen additional delegates representing organizations joining the network this spring.

"NOFAS is now accepting applications from organizations seeking to join the NOFAS affiliate network,"said program coordinator Nav Dayanand, "we anticipate bringing on several new groups and plan to get to work with them right away, starting with the June summit."

The Third Annual Hill Day begins with an orientation on Tuesday afternoon, June 6, with Congressional visits slated for both Wednesday and Thursday. NOFAS is expecting as many as 100 constituents to visit lawmakers to promote this year's FASD agenda.

"To realize our broad goals on Capitol Hill of increased attention and investment for FASD, policy makers must hear directly from families in need. Our collective voice is rising and we're making incremental progress thanks to the courageous families living with the condition," said Lindsay Daschle, director of NOFAS public affairs.

Posted by fasstar at 01:56 PM CST

Adult Neuropsychological Evaluation Clinic

The University of Washington Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit is happy to announce a new service that will be available in April 2006. At long last we'll be able to offer neuropsychological evaluations for adults (age 18 and over) who were exposed to alcohol in utero and who may have fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or another fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

A neuropsychological evaluation will offer alcohol-exposed individuals (and their service providers) a realistic assessment of their functional capacity, strengths and weaknesses. The information will be very helpful to anyone working with high-risk mothers and their families.

The evaluation will not yield an FAS diagnosis, but it can provide critical information for obtaining a Social Security disability determination, or for obtaining a formal clinical diagnosis of FAS. Evaluation services can be billed under private insurance, Medicaid, Social Security Insurance (SSI), or through a Professional Services Contract.

Posted by fasstar at 01:50 PM CST

FASD among children living in Russian 'Baby Homes'

More than half of the Baby-Home residents had phenotypic expression scores that were consistent with a diagnosis of FASD. "Thirteen percent of the children had scores highly compatible with prenatal alcohol exposure," said Miller, "and four percent of the children had intermediate scores."

Claire D. Coles, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Emory University School of Medicine, was not surprised by the study's findings. "Although there is not a huge amount of data out there on FASD among Russian children," she said, "when we conducted a study in Russian boarding schools - the equivalent of residential schools, for kids with social problems - we found a high number of children with FAS."

And this is hardly unexpected, she added. "When you're talking about Baby Homes and orphanages, you're not talking about middle-class people who've got their lives together, you're talking about the foster-care system. The higher incidence of FASD in this group reflects parents with social problems, especially alcohol problems, and doesn't really reflect on the rest of Russian society. I would not expect that the general Russian population has the same incidence of problems."

Posted by fasstar at 01:47 PM CST

SOUTH AFRICA: Foetal Alcohol Syndrome hits crisis proportions

The dry and dusty town of De Aar in South Africa's Northern Cape province is unremarkable in every way but one. It has the world's highest prevalence of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), the group of physical and mental defects caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy, according to the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR), an NGO that carried out a five-year survey of the community's newborns.

More than one in 10 babies in De Aar aged up to 12 months suffered from a severe form of FAS. Just as worrying was the finding that up to 50 percent of children were in some way afflicted by FAS, which is characterised by brain damage, facial deformities and growth deficits.

Posted by fasstar at 01:37 PM CST

March 10, 2006

Wine and Pregnancy: Lies that Women Are Told

NOFAS wrote a response to an article, "Wine and Pregnancy: Lies that Women Are Told" that appeared on the Women Wine Critics Blog website. This website, created by women wine producers, serves as an open forum for wine writers, winemakers, winery and vineyard owners, wine retailers, and wine critics to discuss any and all issues related to wine. The article was written by Daniel Rogov, a well known European wine writer and author and the wine and restaurant critic for an Israeli daily newspaper and for the Israeli version of the International Herald Tribune.
NOFAS believes that this article sends a dangerous message to women - that it is safe to drink moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy. The article presents very selective, inaccurate, and over-simplified information to reach this conclusion. As evidenced by some of the readers' responses, some women accept this type of misinformation as medical advice.

Posted by fasstar at 04:48 PM CST

February 25, 2006

Kellerman takes expertise to help others across Arizona

Cost of Fetal Alcohol in Arizona

Teresa Kellerman has spent 28 years educating herself about the disorder that ravaged her adopted son's brain.

John was diagnosed at birth with fetal alcohol syndrome, the leading preventable cause of mental retardation in the United States.

"As devastating as his outcome was, we have been able to get him what he needs," she said.

Through early identification, children with FAS are more likely to thrive, and less likely to end up in prison, mental institutions or homeless on the streets, Kellerman said.

She is taking that message statewide, helping families and professionals understand FAS and related fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, as the new FASD coordinator for the Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities.

Posted by fasstar at 10:13 PM CST

January 18, 2006

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treatment for Teen with FAS

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most common nonhereditary cause of mental retardation, with deficits in general intellectual functioning, learning, memory, attention, and problem-solving. Presented here is the first case in which measured neurocognitive abilities were determined before, during, and after hyperbaric oxygen therapy in a case of FAS involving a teenage male patient. Memory, reaction time, and visual motor speed assessments were compared. After 40 hyperbaric treatments with 100% oxygen at 1.5 atmospheres absolute, the patient%u2019s performance in 6 of 6 categories of the computer-administered test battery improved. Word composite (verbal) scores improved from 55% to 73%, memory composite (visual) scores improved from 38% to 55%, reaction time composites improved from 1.03 to 0.53 seconds, impulse control composite scores improved from 8 to 5, and visual motor speed scores improved from 18.6 to 19.03. The patient%u2019s subjective symptoms diminished 94%. Six months after these treatments, the patient%u2019s verbal memory was maintained at 73% without any other interventions; impulsivity continued to improve, whereas other indices did not. Thirty-three additional treatments continued to improve test performance, with verbal memory at 95%, visual memory at 57%, and a 100% reduction of subjective symptoms. This patient, with 15-year-matured FAS, benefited from a short course of low-pressure hyperbaric oxygen therapy, sustained durable cognitive improvements, and continued to exhibit improvement with another short course of treatments.

Posted by fasstar at 07:31 PM CST

January 5, 2006

A hard look at children up for international adoption

Dmitry, a 15-month-old Russian orphan, smiles playfully in the photograph on Dr. Dana Johnson's desk here at the International Adoption Clinic at the University of Minnesota. It is an appealing image but useless for the task at hand.

Johnson is looking for telltale features of fetal alcohol syndrome. For that, he needs a photo of Dmitry looking directly into the camera, his face in repose.

Posted by fasstar at 12:44 AM CST

January 2, 2006

Eye Movement Test May Detect Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Canadian researchers say a simple test that tracks eye movements may offer a new tool to accurately diagnose fetal alcohol syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects about one in every 100 Canadian children.

Currently, diagnosing fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) - caused by a woman drinking alcohol during pregnancy - is a hit-and-miss affair, based on physical characteristics, IQ and behavioural and learning difficulties.

In a study of 22 children — 10 diagnosed with FAS and 12 without — Mr. Reynolds's research team used a simple eye-tracking test that detects brain damage. They discovered that kids with FAS have a distinct pattern of visual movement, linked to specific areas of the brain.

Posted by fasstar at 11:37 PM CST

December 30, 2005

South Africa's Children Are Victims of Nation's Alcoholism Culture

South Africa has the highest rate of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the world. It's the most common preventable form of mental retardation. But, a deep-rooted history in South Africa's wine industry is making it difficult to turn this problem around.

Posted by fasstar at 06:34 PM CST

December 28, 2005

France Has a Drinking Problem, Report Says

More than half of French people are overweight, alcoholic or smokers, according to a report by the country'c National Statistical Institute, while a study commissioned by the Health Ministry suggests that 23,000 die every year as a result of alcohol abuse.

The reports cast doubt on claims that the French lead a healthier lifestyle than the British, characterised by sensible drinking and a better diet. One in 10 French people has a drink problem, the report says. Every day, five people die of alcohol-linked accidents or diseases in France.

The semi-official study undermines an argument used by the Blair government for extending Britain's pub opening hours. Spreading drinking over a longer period, as France does, does not necessarily reduce alcohol-related social ills.

M. Chabalier, author of a best-selling book last year on his near-destruction by drink, calls for all bottles of wine and other drinks to have a health-warning label. He also wants a national campaign to warn young people - and especially young women - of the dangers of alcohol.

Drink, and especially drink-driving, is the largest single cause of death among young people in France. Up to 3,000 babies a year are born physically or mentally handicapped because their mothers drank heavily while they were in the womb. Drink-related illnesses kill 23,000 French people a year. When accidents are included, the drink-connected death rate rises to 45,000.

Posted by fasstar at 05:27 PM CST

December 26, 2005

Missouri Family has Room at the Inn

Far from Bethlehem is a two-story home in the country; and if not for Toni and Leon Bussart, a dozen children living there could have been celebrating the holidays without a family.

The Bussarts have opened their home - affectionately named The Inn for Special Children - to 12 children and teenagers, many who require additional care.

Through the years, the Bussarts have learned to care for children with a wide range of special needs - autism, fetal-alcohol syndrome, reactive-attachment disorder, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, speech impediments and blindness.

Posted by fasstar at 12:04 AM CST

December 17, 2005

Freezing death of man with FAS to be reviewed by Vancouver coroner

The sudden death of developmentally disabled native Joseph Ignace earlier this month will be reviewed by the B.C. coroner's office and a medical consultant with a provincial agency responsible for community facilities, a government spokeswoman said yesterday.

Mr. Ignace, 34, froze to death in a wooded area east of Hope. He was found in snow, leaning against a tree, 2 ½ weeks after he walked away from a community facility in Abbotsford. Authorities have said he was schizophrenic and suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome.

Posted by fasstar at 01:20 PM CST

December 8, 2005

Anchorage: FAS in the Classroom

It's sometimes hard for parents and teachers to identify alcohol effects in children. The Anchorage school district has started a program to help kids that seem to be having trouble in the classroom.

Each school in the district has a teacher specifically trained to identify possible cases of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum fact, the Anchorage School District currently has 86 trained teachers from preschool to high school - to be on the lookout for disorders in children. Once a potential problem is identified, teachers, parents and doctors can then decide if it is a case of FSAD, or something else.

"We don't presume to make that diagnosis, so in the meantime, what we%u2019re doing is looking at the strategies we have learned and the tools that we have been given to try some of these interventions," said Mary Paige Lucas, Anchorage School District Special Education Coordinator.

But not all school districts have programs like this...and some children fall through the cracks because of it.

“It would come and it would go. That’s why they were not sure what, if any, problems she had. Sometimes she would be on, where she would do everything right above average, and other times she was below average,” said parent, Angela Blandov.

The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are so hard to diagnose because the severity of the symptoms go from full FAS to subtle behavioral problems. Tonight at six, we will take a deeper look at the problems with education and FSAD diagnosis--why it is so hard, and what happens when the disease is not diagnosed or diagnosed too late.

Posted by fasstar at 08:43 AM CST

November 25, 2005

Dublin Study Shows Increase in Risky Drinking During Pregnancy

10% of pregnant women take six drinks a week

ALMOST one-in-10 pregnant women are putting the health of their unborn children at risk by consuming more than six alcoholic drinks a week, research shows.

The survey of more than 43,000 women attending ante-natal classes at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin found that just 20% intended reducing or stopping drinking altogether during their pregnancy.

Cutting down or stopping drinking while pregnant protects the baby.

The Department of Health insists there is no known safe level of alcohol use in pregnancy and recommends stopping completely until the birth.

In 1999 just half a percent of women admitted drinking six or more drinks a week while pregnant, but last year nearly 9% said they did and that figure is likely to be conservative because most people underestimate how much they drink.

Posted by fasstar at 10:10 AM CST

November 21, 2005

US Congressional Bill Introduced for FASD

Advancing FASD Research, Prevention, and Services Act

HR 4212 was introduced on Nov. 2, 2005 by Congressmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN).

H.R. 4212 would amend the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize and extend the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome prevention and services program. H.R. 4212 would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Director of the National Institutes of Health and in coordination with the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to establish a research agenda for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and award grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements to public or private nonprofit entities to pay all or part of carrying out research under such agenda.

Posted by fasstar at 04:46 PM CST

One drink per week causes unborn babies to twitch

Twitches Indicate Even Moderate Alcohol May Hurt Baby

SCIENTISTS have captured graphic images of the damage done to unborn babies as a result of women drinking during pregnancy.

Just one glass of wine a week can make babies jump in the womb throughout a nine-month pregnancy. Experts believe this abnormal hyperactive behaviour is the result of alcohol slowing or retarding the formation of the central nervous system.

Doctors have warned for decades that women who consume large amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can affect their child's mental development.

The new research suggests even moderate alcohol consumption makes a baby 3½ times more likely to suffer from abnormal spasms in the womb. The findings, by Peter Hepper, a professor at Belfast University's foetal behaviour research unit, appear to back the view that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Posted by fasstar at 02:28 PM CST

November 15, 2005

Apoptosis: Alcohol causes brain cell death in third trimester

Fetal Alcohol Rsearch: Interview with Streissguth and Olney

"Alcohol is the most widely abused drug in the Western world," says Ann Streissguth, director of the Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit at the University of Washington. "In our work we find that one per 100 live births are affected by prenatal alcohol exposure and that is so important. That makes it the largest known cause of mental retardation and developmental disabilities."

Experts have long warned expectant mothers to not drink, especially early in pregnancy, when the baby's body is forming. John Olney, professor of psychiatry and neuropathology at Washington University in St. Louis, is studying how alcohol hurts the fetal brain in later in the pregnancyby triggering nerve cells, which are just forming connections, to commit suicide.

"The brain growth spurt period begins about mid-gestation, about the middle of pregnancy," says Olney. "The nerve cells in the brain make connections with one another. We also call this brain growth spurt period the period of synaptogenesis, meaning the brain cells are making connections with one another, so it's the period in which the brains cells are getting themselves connected into networks." Synaptogenesis takes place in the human brain from the sixth month of gestation through a few years after birth.

Posted by fasstar at 03:24 PM CST

November 1, 2005

Drinking during pregnancy may damage baby's vision

Infants whose mothers regularly drank during pregnancy may show poor vision by the age of 6 months, according to a new study.

Prenatal alcohol exposure is known to put babies at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), a cluster of problems such as poor growth, delayed mental development and unusual facial features. Because it's unclear how much alcohol is needed to put the developing fetus at risk, women who are pregnant or might become pregnant are advised to avoid drinking.

Posted by fasstar at 10:54 AM CST

October 18, 2005

Exercise Repairs FAS Brain Damage

Research Discovery: Exercise Repairs FAS Brain Damage

Exercise can actually repair parts of the brain damaged by prenatal exposure to alcohol, according to research done at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. The discovery by Dr. Brian Christie, a BMO Bank of Montreal Young Investigator and neuroscientist at the Brain Research Centre at UBC Hospital and the Department of Psychology at UBC may improve the odds for thousands of British Columbians affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Using an animal model of prenatal ethanol exposure, Christie and his research team have found exercise improves performance in cognitive tasks and led to functional changes in brain cells - to the point that FASD mice were indistinguishable from normal mice. In a second study, they show that new brain cells are formed in the hippocampus after exercise, and that existing neurons have longer dendrites, the branchlike tendrils that allow communication between cells, and can communicate with one another more efficiently.

Posted by fasstar at 09:53 AM CST

September 26, 2005

FASD legislation reintroduced in US Senate

The legislation contains provisions to require the National Institutes of Health to develop a research agenda for FASD, improve our ability to screen and identify FASD, and facilitate the development of statewide FASD systems and community partnerships. The bill would also provide federal grants for pilot projects to determine and implement the best practices for educating children with FASD within the school system, as well as educating professionals about services for children with FASD. Federal grant money would also be made available to develop support services such as vocational training, housing assistance, and medication monitoring services to adults with FASD.

Johnson was joined in introducing the legislation by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).

Bill info:
Complete text:
NOFAS blurb:

Posted by fasstar at 10:10 AM CST

September 25, 2005

New FASD Education Center in Kodiak, Alaska

In July, the Parent's Place, a new fetal alcohol syndrome awareness center opened at Kodiak's Providence Safe Harbor Counseling Center.

On Sept. 9, International Fetal Alcohol Awareness Day, the Parent's Place had an open house.

They also had a booth at the annual Kodiak Health Fair. Between the two events, Safe Harbor program director Robert Weldy said, he saw 250 participants.

The center is staffed by volunteers and has new signs up downtown, such as the one on the Elk's Lodge and the one at Safe Harbor.

The goal of the Parent's Place is to provide information about the syndrome and to distribute updated information.

Posted by fasstar at 07:20 PM CST

New Zealand: No alcohol message reinforced for pregnant women

Alac spokeswoman Sandra Kirby said an estimated two to three New Zealand babies in 1000 could have foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), which can result in mental retardation and behavioural and learning problems.

September 9 is International FASD awareness day and Alac is supporting community-based initiatives to raise awareness of the issue.

Ms Kirby said while people had taken on board the message against drinking and driving, there was a reluctance among some doctors to advise women against drinking any alcohol during pregnancy.

Alac is also managing an application for the labelling of alcohol beverages with a health advisory notice advising of the dangers of drinking while pregnant.

"However, labels on their own will achieve nothing. A hard message must come from the medical profession on the dangers of drinking while pregnant."

She said she was "horrified but not surprised" at new research showing millions of Australian women were unaware of the dangers of drinking while pregnant.

Posted by fasstar at 07:16 PM CST

New advice for future mums: don't fret over a little drink

Scare tactics used to warn women about the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant could have a backlash effect and lead to unnecessary abortions, experts say.

The warning comes after a national awareness campaign by the Salvation Army, supported by the Australian Medical Association, highlighting the dangers of drinking while pregnant.

The Salvation Army says Australia has a "major issue" with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and has implored expectant mothers to abstain from drinking alcohol.
But Dr Debra Kennedy, director of the MotherSafe advice centre at Sydney's Royal Hospital for Women, said there was no evidence to show that drinking a small amount of alcohol while pregnant could cause FASD.

She said about half of all pregnancies were unplanned, so telling women to abstain from drinking while pregnant was counterproductive and often distressing.

Posted by fasstar at 07:08 PM CST

September 21, 2005

Study bolsters warnings of fetal alcohol exposure

Just one or two drinks a day during pregnancy can cause not only developmental defects in babies but also addiction, sensory disorders and other problems when exposed children become adults, suggests a new study in monkeys by UW- Madison researchers.

The findings provide even more reason for pregnant women or women who may become pregnant not to consume alcohol, the researchers say. That warning carries special significance in Wisconsin, where the binge drinking rate among women is nearly twice the national average.

"There's no safe time to drink, even before pregnancy is detected, and there's no safe amount," said Mary Schneider, a UW-Madison professor of occupational therapy and psychology. "Alcohol exposure to the developing brain, even at moderate levels, can interfere with brain chemistry and persist into adulthood."

The study by Schneider and her research team appears in today's issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Posted by fasstar at 05:07 PM CST

September 19, 2005

Rape suspect says drugs and alcohol ruined him

Those who believe Jonathan Schut raped a Denver woman last spring say he should spend a long time in jail.

But Schut's adoptive parents say there's more to their son's alleged behavior, and it all started before he was born.

Schut, 26, faces 13 criminal charges and could spend the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted. He is accused of raping a 29-year-old Denver woman in the Vail parking garage on March 12 and attacking another girl in her Eagle home.

Though they don' know if their son is guilty, Linda and Robert Schut said they believe the fact that Schut's birth mother drank when she was pregnant could have something to do with Jonathan's problems.

"He's a fetal-alcohol-effects child and people with that problem tend to get in trouble with the law, they don't see logical consequences," said Linda Schut, who with her husband, a pastor from Mescalero, N.M., visited Jonathan at the Eagle County Jail last week.

"If he's guilty, I hold him responsible," Robert Schut said. "But how do you make sure society is best served considering this is a person who can't, in many ways, think right."

Posted by fasstar at 07:49 PM CST

September 16, 2005

Key neural system at risk from fetal alcohol exposure (Sep 14, 2005)

In a study of adult monkeys who were exposed to moderate amounts of alcohol in utero, scientists have found that prenatal exposure to alcohol - even in small doses - has pronounced effects on the development and function later in life of the brain's dopamine system, a critical component of the central nervous system that regulates many regions of the brain.

Posted by fasstar at 12:12 AM CST

September 12, 2005

Adult defendants with FAS present challenge for courts

Pinning down an exact number of people who are affected by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or FAS, is a difficult, if not impossible, task. But a generality offered by Kari Scovel, a Rapid City psychologist, is dire: Most people with FAS get into trouble with the law.

After they get into trouble, sentencing is a challenge because there is no FAS-specific treatment center or residential facility for adults in South Dakota. So, the defendant is sentenced to find services piecemeal to address various symptoms.

Posted by fasstar at 07:31 PM CST

September 10, 2005

Children Pay Later for Mother's Drinking

Today on the ninth day of the ninth month, expectant mothers are reminded not to drink during pregnancy.

Designated Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Day, today is a symbolic and poignant reminder to mothers not to drink during pregnancy. Many families have to live with the grim results of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

When Don and Vicki Brewster adopted their children in 2000, they knew the biological mother drank. But they had no idea what their kids were facing because of it.

Posted by fasstar at 01:19 PM CST

September 8, 2005

Prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to lasting changes in cognitive processing

Prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to lasting changes in cognitive processing.

Prenatal alcohol exposure is often linked to slower cognitive reaction times and poorer attention. A new study investigates cognitive function and speed as tasks become more complex. Findings indicate that alcohol-exposed children can perform as well as other children on simple tasks, but as tasks become more demanding and challenging, processing speed slows down significantly.

Posted by fasstar at 09:35 PM CST

August 15, 2005

University of Wisconsin study suggests broader damage from fetal alcohol syndrome

The chemical pathways by which alcohol causes neurological cell death in chick embryos overlap with the pathways that give alcohol its addictive properties, a UW-Madison fetal alcohol researcher announced in a study published this month in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

"We found that calcium released by alcohol has an immediate and devastating effect on certain neurological cells," says Susan Smith, a professor of nutritional sciences in UW-Madison's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. "In this study we show clearly the source and the target of the calcium, and we also show that the pathways of cell death overlap with some of the pathways that give the addictive and rewarding properties of alcohol."

The finding that alcohol acts through similar pathways to both kill embryonic cells and affect adult brain function suggests that researchers may be able to predict how alcohol will affect neurons, Smith says. And she adds, "The shared signaling is consistent with concerns that prenatal alcohol exposure could increase a person's desire for alcohol rewards later in life."

Posted by fasstar at 01:14 AM CST

August 12, 2005

Care crisis for troubled juveniles in Australia

YOUNG children with severe behavioural problems are each costing taxpayers more than $350,000 a year for 24-hour professional care and therapy under a $20million Queensland government program that caters for fewer than 300 adolescents.

While health professionals yesterday applauded the Beattie Government for "treating symptoms", they labelled the program unsustainable and criticised a lack of preventive measures to stop the cycle of neglect before the children needed such enormous financial and personal investments.

In one case, three children were taken from their family at Aurukun community on western Cape York because they were neglected by their young alcoholic mother.
The oldest, a boy now aged 13, has been in "care" in Cairns for six years. Departmental workers contacted by The Australian call him "the $3million boy" -- the estimated cost to taxpayers of his care by the time he turns 18. They predict that he will then go to jail.

Posted by fasstar at 03:31 PM CST

August 7, 2005

FASD to be on Voice of America

The Honorable Susan Carlson, former First Lady of Minnesota and founder of MOFAS, will be doing a worldwide internet radio show on Thursday, September 8th from 1 to 2 pm, central daylight time on People can listen here: People can call into the live radio show at 1-888-335-5204 toll free.

Posted by fasstar at 02:00 PM CST

Breakthrough in potential screening for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

The study from Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu shows rats with choline in their prenatal diets did not have symptoms of prenatal alcohol. Choline is an ingredient required in baby formula in the United States.

The study also showed the hormone vasopressin could be linked to cognitive development. Lead researcher, John Claybaugh says, "When most mammal fetuses are developing, the nerves in the brain that make vasopressin become almost fully developed. We recently published a paper showing that if alcohol is consumed during pregnancy, a rat's developing vasopressin nerves are damaged, and this damage lasts through adulthood because they synthesize less vasopressin in the brain and store less in the pituitary."

Researchers say without enough vasopressin, the rats drank more water and had more diluted urine than normal -- classic symptoms of diabetes. Because of the distinct symptoms, Claybaugh believes monitoring infants' urine flow and vasopressin content could be a way to test for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the future.

Posted by fasstar at 01:25 PM CST

NY Hotline info on FAS

A new hotline number has been set up to inform the public about a widespread but little-known birth defect called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
The condition and its related disorders, caused by even moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy, can affect one of every 100 newborns in this country, experts said, but often gets misdiagnosed as a host of other defects.
"It's pervasive," said Susan Rose, director of the Flushing-based Fetal Alcohol Support Network that established the information line. "It's something you see everywhere."

Posted by fasstar at 01:14 PM CST

Choline during pregnancy may avoid, reverse some Fetal Alcohol Syndrome nervous disorders

Tripler Army MedCenter researchers showed that including choline in pre-natal diets of rats avoided symptoms of prenatal alcohol in young adult animals. They also believe they've identified several physiological approaches that could lead to post-natal screening methods to identify babies with possible FAS or related diseases. These include monitoring urine flow and its vasopressin content. They also found some indication, or at least possible correlation, that vasopressin could serve some function in cognitive development.

Posted by fasstar at 01:11 PM CST

Computerized Brief Intervention Decreases Drinking and Consequences

Time and labor constraints on clinicians have spurred the search for innovative methods to deliver personalized feedback on unhealthy drinking behavior. One such innovation is computer-based brief intervention. To assess the efficacy of computer-based brief intervention to reduce unhealthy alcohol use, researchers conducted a randomized trial of 61 problem drinkers (using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, or AUDIT) who were not in alcohol treatment and were recruited through newspaper advertising. Subjects were assigned to receive a computer-based brief intervention either shortly after study entry (i.e., intervention group) or at least four weeks after entry (i.e., control group).

Posted by fasstar at 01:09 PM CST

July 16, 2005

Prenatal alcohol exposure: Going to bat for special children

Angela Swink's cocoa-brown eyes blaze with determination as she clutches a toy train engine, refusing to relinquish it to her 3-year-old brother, Cody.
"You're going to make me share and I'm going to throw a hissy fit," the petite 11-year-old Tucson girl tells her mother, Dawn Swink.

"That's the fetal alcohol attitude," the Tucson mom explains before warning her daughter that a hissy fit will land her in a timeout.

Dawn Swink is the adoptive mother of four children who were damaged by alcohol in the womb. She spends her days going to bat for her children, helping them get the services they need, giving them the greatest chance of success.

She has not done it alone. For the past several years, Swink has turned to Teresa Kellerman and the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Community Resource Center in Tucson.

Posted by fasstar at 10:46 AM CST

July 15, 2005

Birthing Under The Influence

A pregnant Oklahoma woman who split a case of beer with her boyfriend shortly before giving birth last month is facing felony child neglect charges. Melissa Irene Tanner, a 37-year-old mother of seven, had a blood alcohol content nearly four times the state's .08 limit, according to the below probable cause affidavit. Tanner's baby, a girl born June 30, had a BAC of .21, nearly three times the Oklahoma limit.

Tanner, who first told a nurse that she was unaware of the pregnancy, was arrested and tossed into the Washington County lockup, where she is being held in lieu of $30,000 bail. Tanner, pictured at right in a booking photo, drank a case of beer a week during her pregnancy, and apparently preferred "the cheap stuff," according to the affidavit. In fact, a friend quoted by cops said that after the baby was born, she asked Tanner what the girl was going to be named. Tanner, the friend told deputies, replied, "Maybe Milwaukee's Best."

Posted by fasstar at 10:54 PM CST

July 13, 2005

Editorial by Dr. Kieran O’Malley

Suicide in Adolescents and Adults With FASD

Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in the US and the third leading cause for Americans aged 15 to 24 years (1). In Canada, suicide rates are higher (2). Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are common and preventable developmental disabilities with a prevalence of 1 in 100 (3). Previous reports suggest that individuals with FASD are at risk for suicide (4,5). An individual with a typical clinical profile for FASD will evidence several risk factors for suicide (for example, impulsivity, a comorbid mood disorder, and substance abuse problems) and should be monitored closely, irrespective of intellectual ability.

...A pilot study (6) examined 11 adults with FASD (3 men and 8 women, aged 18 to 30 years, with IQs ranging from 72 to 113) drawn from the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Follow-up Study database of the University of Washington Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit. It found that approximately one-half the subjects reported at least 1 lifetime suicide attempt...

Posted by fasstar at 06:52 PM CST

The curse of fetal alcohol syndrome is an unfolding crisis.

...The cheapest solution is prevention. So it's incumbent upon all of us, not just government, to help educate mothers about the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. One way to do that is to become pro-active in helping to change the culture of social drinking.

...Next comes our duty as citizens and taxpayers to hold our political leaders accountable for ensuring: that aggressive prevention programs and supports for pregnant women are in place; that adequate identification of children at risk and vigorous early intervention programs are functioning and well-funded; that educational programs that address these children's special needs and which work to socialize them instead of permitting their marginalization are fully supported both financially and with sufficient trained professionals.

Posted by fasstar at 05:57 PM CST

FASD support lacking, expensive

A column ran a couple of weeks ago that talked about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and the devastating, lifelong effects that include uncontrolled hyperactivity, lack of memory, lack of impulse control, no sense of consequence and no self-regulation.

Not always in the spotlight, FASD is very real. The services and support to deal with it are expensive and inadequate. E-mail from everywhere let me know that.

The deficits of those with FASD are many and their resources few. Research states that those with FASD require simplicity, structure and constant monitoring. Sadly those in charge of social agencies and schools don't deliver, despite talking a good game.

Posted by fasstar at 11:59 AM CST

July 11, 2005

NineZero Campaign Targets Alcohol

An unprecedented public-awareness campaign against the leading cause of mental retardation officially launches this month.

Arc Riverside 's NineZero project, aimed at preventing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, attempts to persuade teens and young adults not to drink if pregnant because of the harmful effects to the developing baby associated with it.

The project began as an experiment in peer teaching in Moreno Valley high schools in 2001. It has since been revamped to include an interactive Web site and red bracelets as a reminder of the pledge -- nine months, zero alcohol. At the project's core remain the educational lessons taught by high school upperclassmen to younger students with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation and other visuals.

"We teach freshmen because they are sexually active and because they are the next generation of parents," said Jim Stream , executive director of Arc Riverside.

Posted by fasstar at 12:46 PM CST

July 10, 2005

England - Pregnant mums in binge drinking warning

Experts are meeting in Birmingham today to look at how to educate women about the dangers binge drinking can have on their unborn babies.

One baby a day is born in the West Midlands with learning difficulties or physical deformities linked to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.

National charity FAS Aware UK - which is backing the conference at Austin Court, in the city centre - claims that more than 1,300 children a year are harmed in the womb due to their mother's drinking.

Posted by fasstar at 06:47 PM CST

July 8, 2005

Project sheds light on disability born of alcohol

When police questioned Gabe Baddeley about a fire set in the teachers' lounge of the local high school, he said he did it.
At first, he was wrong on some of the details. But he bent his description of the crime to fit what Prosser police told him.
He'd already served a short jail sentence by the time he was exonerated.
Baddeley, 23, suffers from the effects of a mother who drank alcohol while pregnant. Being highly suggestible and overly willing to tell authorities what he thinks they want to hear are symptoms.
And his case is just one reason University of Washington researchers want to identify people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders who have run-ins with the law -- and most of them do -- to better address their needs and help them stay out of trouble.

Posted by fasstar at 09:49 PM CST

June 30, 2005

FASD-related decision angers victim's family

The family of one of the females who were sexually assaulted by Charlton "Chuckie" Ford is outraged that his diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder helped clear him of an attempted murder charge.

Ford was found not guilty of attempted murder in attacks committed in 2003 against two female Nain residents who were 15 and 19, respectively, at the time.

Valerie Webb, a cousin of one of Ford's victims, says her family is disillusioned and angry.

"He got nothing," says Webb. "There's a lot of prisoners in the pen now that suffer from [FASD]. What makes Chuckie so special that he can get away with it?"

"FASD is real, but it cannot be used as an excuse to commit crimes, no matter how minor or how severe," she says.

Posted by fasstar at 11:32 AM CST

June 28, 2005

Arsonist with FAS nets 13-month sentence

A 20-year-old man with fetal alcohol syndrome and the mental age of a
13-year-old was handed a 13-month jail sentence yesterday for setting
fires that caused $1.8 million in damages last year.

Provincial court Judge Sid Lerner rejected a request by Christopher Leo
Fillion's defence counsel to allow him to serve the sentence in the

Lerner said Fillion is at high risk of reoffending unless he's monitored
24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Unfortunately, no such program is available for him at this time," the
judge said.

Posted by fasstar at 04:01 PM CST

June 7, 2005

"I don't want to die."

Winnipeg stabbing claims 17-year-old with FASD

A 17-year-old boy was fatally stabbed early yesterday morning in Elmwood in the city's eighth homicide of the year.

Posted by fasstar at 10:32 PM CST

May 24, 2005

Ready or not, teen killer may go free

A teen who killed his mother and shot other family members in 2001 could be released in December, even though his defense attorney and the judge don't believe he's ready to return to the community.

Mental health experts who have evaluated McMullen since his arrest say, in court records, that the teen has limited mental capabilities, may have fetal alcohol syndrome caused by his biological mother and, as a result, is especially vulnerable to peer pressure.

"If Jonathan is in the wrong situation, led by the wrong people, he may behave impulsively and dangerously once again," wrote Phoenix clinical neuropsychologist H. Daniel Blackwood after evaluating McMullen in July 2002.

Fetal alcohol syndrome, referred to repeatedly in McMullen's court files, is brain damage caused by a mother drinking during pregnancy. It can cause antisocial behavior.

Posted by fasstar at 07:06 PM CST

May 16, 2005

Meconium test reveals 3% of newborns exposed to heavy drinking during pregnancy

A test of a newborn's stool that can show whether a mom drank heavily during pregnancy suggests that more than three per cent of Canadian children are born with some form of fetal alcohol syndrome, researchers say.
Doctors at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children have been testing newborns' first bowel movements - called meconium - in one area of Ontario to determine how many women drank enough alcohol while pregnant to put their babies at risk.
The test detects a metabolite of alcohol that shows up if a mother was drinking heavily during her second and/or third trimesters.

Posted by fasstar at 10:54 PM CST

May 11, 2005

With humor, he explains seriousness of disorders

Dan Dubovsky often draws upon humor to illustrate the serious issue of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and one of his favorite comic examples comes from Amelia Bedelia, a children's book character.

Posted by fasstar at 06:22 PM CST

March 9, 2005

State failed to heed warnings of abuse of boys with FAS

Margaret Holland of Northeast Portland took in her grandson when the boy was 4. He showed signs of fetal alcohol syndrome and attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder. He also had a low IQ. She spent much of her time trying to get him help.
In spring 1994, the boy, then 14, was arrested in Holland's front yard. He had fired a cap gun and frightened a passing motorist. After spending eight days in juvenile detention, he was placed under the supervision of Boyles, who had been hired by the state in January 1993.

As a probation officer, Boyles had the responsibility to ensure that the boy received services that not only would help keep him out of trouble, but also would help deal with his mental problems.

Holland, then 67, said she reluctantly gave up custody of her grandson after Boyles promised that the boy would receive the best treatment the state had to offer.

Her faith in Boyles quickly evaporated.

Posted by fasstar at 02:24 PM CST

March 6, 2005

Several causes of autism identified, including FAS

The research team studied 25 autistic adults with a mental disability to determine the reasons for their autism. All the adults were given a physical examination including eye and ear, nose and throat investigations, brain scans, screens for metabolic and blood abnormalities and full genetic analysis.

The researchers found definitive causes for autism in five of the adults, including fetal alcohol syndrome, neonatal disorders, disturbed cholesterol mechanism and genetic defects.

Posted by fasstar at 08:19 PM CST

February 23, 2005

U.S. Surgeon General Advisory on Alcohol Use in Pregnancy

U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona today warned pregnant women and women who may become pregnant to abstain from alcohol consumption in order to eliminate the chance of giving birth to a baby with any of the harmful effects of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). FASD is the full spectrum of birth defects caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. The spectrum may include mild and subtle changes, such as a slight learning disability and/or physical abnormality, through full-blown Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can include severe learning disabilities, growth deficiencies, abnormal facial features, and central nervous system disorders. This updates a 1981 Surgeon General's Advisory that suggested that pregnant women limit the amount of alcohol they drink.

Posted by fasstar at 11:06 AM CST

February 5, 2005

Hoyme, May, Jones publish clarification of diagnostic guidelines

PEDIATRICS Vol. 115 No. 1 January 2005, pp. 39-47

A Practical Clinical Approach to Diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Clarification of the 1996 Institute of Medicine Criteria

(Only the abstract is available online. When the full text is available, a link will be added here.)

Posted by fasstar at 06:46 PM CST

February 1, 2005

Warning Signs about Alcohol & Pregnancy

On February 1, 2005, Sandy's Law comes into effect in Ontario and establishments that are licensed to serve or sell alcohol will be required to post specific Warning Signs about the risks of alcohol use in pregnancy. Government Regulations specify the types of licensed establishments affected by this new law, the size, language, wording and images for the signs, and where the signs must be posted.

Posted by fasstar at 10:25 PM CST

January 31, 2005

Family believes forger has a disability

Fetal alcohol: They want testing and treatment for the man who has been in prison more than a dozen times.

For almost two decades, Kent Bowthorpe's family has watched with despair as he broke the law again and again.

Bowthorpe has been in jail or prison more than a dozen times since 1987, frequently for the same offense: stealing and forging his grandmother's personal checks. One year, he stole nearly $2,500 from her.

By 2000, his family had limited contact with Bowthorpe, believing he was a bad seed. Just last month, he pleaded guilty to forging $433.90 worth of checks, and was sentenced to up to five years in prison.

"We just thought he was very immature for his age and very enabled and he just needed to grow up," said Janie Bowthorpe, Kent's stepmother.

Today, the family believes Kent Bowthorpe, 39, suffers from Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), a birth disorder related to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Posted by fasstar at 10:45 AM CST

January 24, 2005

SAMHSA announces grant contract awards

FASD Center for Excellence awards grants to contractors

Fall 2004 newsletter - text format

Fall 2004 newsletter - pdf format

The award of the subcontracts resulted from a major effort by the
FASD Center. The Center e-mailed a notice about the request for
proposal to more than 2,000 interested parties and posted an
announcement on its Web site. Sixty-three organizations submitted

The 20 subcontractors were selected through a rigorous review process involving more than 50
reviewers. Each proposal was reviewed by three reviewers, including FASD Center Steering Committee members, field trainers, consultants, and staff. The 20 organizations were selected based on the ability to complete the tasks successfully.

The projects span the country. Eight projects address rural populations and six are in urban areas. Ten projects include children in their target audience. Four include American Indian/Alaska Native populations, one focuses on Hispanics, and one focuses on African-Americans. The projects span a range of services:

*Two projects address criminal justice and juvenile justice, with the goal of identifying people in these systems who have FASD.

*Two projects have systems of care for mental health and are working to integrate FASD prevention and treatment into the system.

*One project involves a health maintenance organization integrating alcohol screening into its mental health unit and maternity clinic.

*Several prevention projects focus on women at high risk or likely to be at risk of having children with FASD.

*Two projects deal with residential services for youth with FASD, including screening, diagnosis, and intervention.

*One project will work with physicians on the type of screening that triggers a referral for

Posted by fasstar at 02:17 PM CST

School system fails Innu children

Only one in three Innu children in Labrador ever attends school, and students suffer from a high level of fetal alcohol syndrome, according to a federally commissioned report.

Posted by fasstar at 11:26 AM CST

FAS video receives Modern Media Award

An on-line campaign was developed to promote the charity 'FAS Aware' and raise awareness of the problems of foetal alcohol syndrome.

The film was created using real video footage of a scan of an unborn child. However, this is scan footage with a difference. The unborn child speaks about the problems that it encounters as a result of its mother drinking during pregnancy.

Posted by fasstar at 11:16 AM CST

Fetal alcohol syndrome is still a threat

The environmental toxin that presents the greatest danger to the highest number of unborn children today is alcohol. Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the most common known cause of mental retardation in the United States. Despite increasingly wide public understanding of the devastating effects of heavy drinking by pregnant women, it remains too common and difficult to prevent. The September issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter examines the multiple layers of this harmful trend.

Posted by fasstar at 09:52 AM CST

January 14, 2005

Teenage Girls Targeted for Sweet-flavored Alcoholic Beverages

The American Medical Association (AMA) released the results of two nationwide polls today that reveal the extent of underage consumption and marketing exposure to %u201Calcopops%u201D or so-called %u201Cgirlie drinks.%u201D The AMA expressed concern that hard-liquor brands are using these sweet-flavored malt beverages as %u201Cgateway%u201D beverages to attract less-experienced drinkers.
%u201CWe're alarmed and concerned with these findings,%u201D said J. Edward Hill, president-elect of the AMA. %u201CThe percentage of girls who drink is on the rise faster than boys, and the average age of their first drink is now 13. These troubling trends make the aggressive marketing of so-called alcopops even more dangerous.%u201D

Posted by fasstar at 08:29 PM CST

January 10, 2005

OH stages play about death row inmate who has FAS

Killing Bobby Reyburn seems like a no-brainer.

What he did was horrific. He deliberately set fire to an African-American church. He callously murdered 37 people, including 14 children in the Sunday school below.

Bobby Reyburn is a monster. But in the hands of playwright Bruce Graham and actor T. Robert Pigott, he's also a damaged child, a sweet-tempered, rambunctious mutt who might be mentally ill, who probably suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome and has never known love except from the man who taught him how to hate.

Posted by fasstar at 11:00 AM CST

January 6, 2005

A life and death full of mystery

Christopher Rambadt was a mystery to his foster mother in 1984 in a far different way than he was to Sacramento police in 2004.

In 1984, he was a toddler who showed no emotions; his family was wrapped up in a high-profile murder trial after the death of his sister.

In late October, he was an anonymous 22-year-old man police found stabbed to death along the American River

Posted by fasstar at 09:39 AM CST

December 28, 2004

Australia - Recommended alcohol intake during pregnancy revised

A timely warning for Christmas. The Australian Medical Association says as little as one-and-a-half drinks a week for a pregnant woman could mean the difference between having a child who's talented on the sporting field or having one who will be forever be labelled clumsy.

President Dr Bill Glasson told Jayne-Maree Sedgman that abstinence is the only real way to avoid foetal damage.

Posted by fasstar at 10:18 AM CST

December 23, 2004

Alcohol Consumption Among Women Who Are Pregnant or Who Might Become Pregnant

Alcohol use during pregnancy is associated with health problems that adversely affect the mother and fetus; no level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been determined safe. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is recognized as the foremost preventable condition involving neurobehavioral and developmental abnormalities. Women who drink during pregnancy place themselves at risk for having a child with FAS or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). To determine the alcohol consumption patterns among all women of childbearing age, including those who are pregnant or might become pregnant, CDC analyzed data for women aged 18--44 years from the 2002 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. The results of that analysis indicated that approximately 10% of pregnant women used alcohol, and approximately 2% engaged in binge drinking or frequent use of alcohol. The results further indicated that more than half of women who did not use birth control (and therefore might become pregnant) reported alcohol use and 12.4% reported binge drinking. Women who are pregnant or who might become pregnant should abstain from alcohol use.

Posted by fasstar at 01:14 PM CST

December 22, 2004

Alaska Family Feature Story

Alcohol, Pregnancy Don't Mix

Vicky Horodyski's 18-year-old adopted daughter, Teena, has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. That means she'll never be fully independent. She's always going to need supervision and monitoring. Horodyski said that's very frustrating for Teena."We have lots of discussions round the dinner table about hating this disorder. We also have lots of discussions about, 'Why did my mom have to drink?' I just say, 'I don't think she knew. She didn't do it to hurt you.'

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy destroys developing cells in the fetus, causing permanent brain damage. People with FASD may present a wide range of disabilities from developmental delays to mental retardation. It's also accompanied by facial anomalies like short noses and thin upper lips.

Posted by fasstar at 09:43 AM CST

November 26, 2004

Prenatal alcohol exposure has effects far beyond fetal alcohol syndrome

"There is as of yet little public awareness or understanding of the behavioral teratologic sequelae of fetal alcohol exposure, such as the cognitive deficits found here in children who do not exhibit the physical markers of FAS," concurred Lynn T. Singer, Deputy Provost and Vice President for Academic Programs at Case Western Reserve University. "This study is seminal in that it demonstrates that what was interpreted in prior studies as a lack of any IQ effects in nonsyndromal, alcohol-exposed children was really due to a differential effect of exposure related to several risk/protective factors studied by these researchers."

Posted by fasstar at 04:59 PM CST

October 24, 2004

Cigarette Warning Images

View of packs of cigarettes, unveiled by European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne, at a news conference in Brussels October 22, 2004. Byrne unveiled new violent images for cigarette packs to warn consumers of the health risk of smoking.

Posted by fasstar at 01:09 PM CST

October 23, 2004

FASD and Family Stress

Study Links FASD with Family Stress

This study examined families raising a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in terms of family distress and parental negative emotion, and the functioning of families raising a child with FAS or related conditions. Participants included 105 parents, 85 mothers and 20 fathers, raising a child who was diagnosed with any of the fetal alcohol related conditions or who was suspected of having any of these conditions. Results from mothers indicated that there is a difference between the diagnostic categories of FAS, fetal alcohol effects (FAE) and possible fetal alcohol syndrome/effects (FAS/E) in measures of family distress and parental negative emotion. Families raising a child with FAS experienced significantly less family distress than those raising a child with FAE or possible FAS/E. Similarly, families raising a child with either FAS or FAE experienced significantly less parental negative emotion than families raising a child with possible FAS/E.

Posted by fasstar at 02:18 PM CST

October 22, 2004

Research confirms alcohol risk during pregnancy

New research has shown that even small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy can be unsafe for babies.
A British-based study looked at a condition known as foetal alcohol syndrome and concluded that pregnant women would be better off avoiding alcohol altogether.
Researchers say effects of the condition on babies can range from mild learning difficulties to physical abnormalities and even severe brain damage, in the case of a heavy drinker.
Steve Allsop, from the Drug and Alcohol Authority of Western Australia, says abstinence is the best option for mums-to-be.

Posted by fasstar at 02:48 PM CST

October 21, 2004

Men's Alcohol Consumption During Conception Period Linked to Increased Chance of Miscarriage

Women who reported consuming 10 or more drinks per week at the time of conception were almost three times as likely to experience a miscarriage as women who had not consumed any alcoholic beverages during the conception period. The partners of men who consumed 10 or more alcoholic drinks per week at the time of conception were five times as likely to miscarry as women whose partners did not drink any alcohol, according to the researchers.

Posted by fasstar at 01:06 AM CST

October 19, 2004

My Turn: Clearing up misconceptions about fetal alcohol syndrome 10/18/04

H oping to get some good copy for this column, I recently conducted an informal survey of persons I met in the wharf mall about fetal alcohol syndrome.
I asked men and women whether they know anything about FAS (more often referred to now as FASD, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders); whether they think it is OK to drink any amount of alcohol during pregnancy; the percentage of American women whose pregnancies are unplanned; and whether or not they think that the male partner (if present) has any effect on whether or not the woman drinks during pregnancy.

Posted by fasstar at 12:21 AM CST

October 17, 2004

Judy Collins to speak on sobriety and FAS

In her address at the dinner, Collins plans to refer to statistics about the number of vehicle accidents in the United States each year that are caused by women under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and that half of all female inmates in U.S. jails are there for alcohol- or drug-related transgressions. She also plans to talk about fetal alcohol syndrome -- the effect of alcohol on a pregnant woman's fetus -- as another trouble spot for women with chemical dependency problems. "I don't think a lot of people understand that," she said.

Posted by fasstar at 12:34 AM CST

October 15, 2004

Alaska Governor tours new psychiatric hospital with FAS diagnostic team

Governor Frank Murkowski on Wednesday toured the new psychiatric treatment facility now under construction next to the Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API). Governor Murkowski announced that the program, under the umbrella organization of API, will be named the Alaska Recovery Center. "The name of this program exemplifies our notion that all of our citizens who suffer from psychiatric disabilities can lead productive lives in recovery," said Governor Murkowski.

The new facility will also have a multi-disciplinary Fetal Alcohol Syndrome diagnostic screening team, who will provide early diagnostic screenings and treatment recommendations for children suffering from FAS.

Posted by fasstar at 12:21 AM CST

October 12, 2004

FAS rights enhanced by Whitehorse trial

WHITEHORSE - Social service advocates in the Yukon say a sexual assault trial in Whitehorse has set an important precedent for people with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
A mentally impaired woman with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD, testified before a Supreme Court jury.

Posted by fasstar at 07:39 PM CST

Canada's Governor-General's Throne Speech

...We must do more to ensure that Canada's prosperity is shared by Canada's Aboriginal people%u2014First Nations, Inuit and Métis. We have made progress, but it is overshadowed by the rates of fetal alcohol syndrome and teen suicide in Aboriginal communities. These are the intolerable consequences of the yawning gaps that separate so many Aboriginal people from other Canadians - unacceptable gaps in education attainment, in employment, in basics like housing and clean water, and in the incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Posted by fasstar at 10:12 AM CST

October 6, 2004

Opposition parties in N.S. push alcohol warnings

Nova Scotians are a step closer to having young children strapped into car booster seats and having mandatory warnings posted about the dangers of drinking while pregnant.

Posted by fasstar at 11:03 PM CST

October 1, 2004

Man high risk to reoffend

A man involved in a violent home invasion in City Park two years ago has all the hallmarks of brain damage caused by his mother drinking alcohol while she was pregnant with him, a psychologist told his dangerous offender hearing Tuesday.

A presentence psychiatric assessment on Otto's court file reveals a childhood of living in 12 different foster homes in eight years by the time he was 10. He was completely disconnected from his birth parents and extended family and had almost no contact with his siblings, the report says. He has never had any long-term relationships or jobs and is a chronic alcoholic.

"If he is affected by maternal drinking, he does not need active treatment but long-term support and structure," yet "that doesn't make him less dangerous," Nicholaichuk said.

"We need to help him create a new life. The problem is that extensive," he said.

Posted by fasstar at 11:01 AM CST

Fetal alcohol syndrome leads to violent crime

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a major factor driving violent crime in Canada and filling prisons with revolving-door criminals, say experts. Federal prison officials have never done a count of FAS cases behind bars in Canada, but a study of Texas prisons found between 75 and 85 per cent of their inmates were born with FAS complications.

"(FAS) leads to poor impulse control. It can lead to violent tendencies," said Dr. Robin Walker, president of the Canadian Pediatric Society.
"We know that individuals with FAS tend to have a much higher level of involvement with police and prisons. And there is absolutely no cure."

"I'm convinced that FAS as a factor in violent crime is profoundly under-diagnosed in this country," said Ray Corrado, professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University.

Posted by fasstar at 10:24 AM CST

September 29, 2004

New CDC Diagnostic Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-National Task Force on FAS and FAE has published the newly adopted diagnostic guidelines. This document is available to download in pdf format at the CDC web site. This is the culmination of over two years work and study to provide guidance to health and human services on how to uniformly diagnose this disorder.

Posted by fasstar at 09:35 AM CST

September 25, 2004

The Australian: Doctors speak out on 'third world care' and FAS

THEY are known as the Cape Crusaders and when it comes to the deplorable state of Aboriginal health these three Cairns-based doctors know the reality inside out.

The Outreach trio are reluctant to speak about dreadful cases of violence and neglect they have treated for fear it will erode the trust they have built up with their patients.

But when it comes to the effects of alcohol, particularly babies born with foetal alcohol syndrome, Dr Heazlewood is forthright.

"One of the rights of children is to be born without being brain-damaged but pregnant women indulging in binge drinking cause dreadful problems for their unborn babies," he said.

Posted by fasstar at 04:00 PM CST

September 24, 2004

South African Winemakers Donate Proceeds to FAS Charity

The men of Klub 13 are men with not only a purpose, but also a conscious. 'South Africa in a bottle' is destined for auction in the nearby future, the proceeds of which will go toward a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome charity with Beyers Truter as guardian.

'Wine is our passion, our future, our life,' Stefan and his mates proclaimed to the world last week.

Posted by fasstar at 07:58 PM CST

September 23, 2004

Australia expert calls FAS 'biological genocide'

An Indigenous health academic says birth defects in Aboriginal communities are being missed because of inadequate medical reporting. Janet Hammill is a speaker at the International Congress for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, which is underway in Brisbane. Dr Hammill says many cases of foetal alcohol syndrome and foetal marijuana syndrome are not picked up until late childhood or adolescence.

Posted by fasstar at 07:15 PM CST

September 22, 2004

Link found between maternal alcohol and autism

Autism families with a high incidence of alcoholism

To determine the significance of neuropsychiatric disorders in autism families, we analyzed 167 pedigrees ascertained through an autistic child; 39% had alcoholism in patterns consistent with transmission of a genetic trait. Children from high alcoholism families were more likely to have the onset of their autistic behavior occur with a loss of language . This occurred primarily in families where the mother was alcoholic, suggesting an association between maternal alcoholism and regressive onset autism.

Posted by fasstar at 12:17 PM CST

September 18, 2004

FAS Prevention in Washington State: Evidence of Success

The prevalence of maternal drinking during pregnancy in Washington State declined significantly from 1993 to 1998 as did the prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome among foster children born 1993-98 . These observations support the likelihood that fetal alcohol syndrome prevention efforts in Washington State are working successfully.

Posted by fasstar at 11:27 AM CST

September 11, 2004

Chicago mom fights to bring awareness of disorder

Vivian Botka of Streator knows her 21-year-old adopted daughter, Kristy, who
has a very low IQ and needs help feeding and dressing herself, is the extreme
outcome from fetal alcohol syndrome.

But about 1 percent--or about 40,000--of babies born each year suffer from
fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, a wide range of problems from facial
deformities to growth deficits to hyperactivity, caused by alcohol consumption
during pregnancy, according to advocates.

Posted by fasstar at 01:27 PM CST

Press Release -- Senate Passes Resolution Declaring Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski Wednesday won passage of a resolution in the U.S. Senate declaring Sept. 9th as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Spectrum Disorders Day to call attention to the severe problems that consumption of alcohol during pregnancy causes children.

Murkowski that day also won a Leadership Award from the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome for her work to combat the devastating ailment that affects so many children in Alaska and nationwide.

Posted by fasstar at 10:51 AM CST

September 7, 2004

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is Still a Threat Says Harvard Mental Health Letter

The environmental toxin that presents the greatest danger to the highest number of unborn children today is alcohol. Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the most common known cause of mental retardation in the United States. Despite increasingly wide public understanding of the devastating effects of heavy drinking by pregnant women, it remains too common and difficult to prevent. The September issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter examines the multiple layers of this harmful trend.

Posted by fasstar at 03:55 PM CST

September 4, 2004

Teen with FAS sentenced in death of blind man

Tapio's stepmother, Sharon Mitchell, who also is Boswell's grandmother, said after Thursday's hearing that the murder was a tragic result of the failure of the criminal justice and social service systems to deal adequately with damaged children.

"I was in here a long time ago, begging the court for help for these kids," she said. "Any parent of a child with mental health issues could be just hours away from being in our shoes."

Posted by fasstar at 06:14 PM CST

August 29, 2004

Check out the ears before brawling

It may be wise to check out a stranger's ears before picking a fight, U.S. researchers advised on Monday. They found that women and men with asymmetrical extremities -- ears, fingers or feet of different sizes or shapes -- were more likely to react aggressively when annoyed or provoked.

This could make sense, the team at Ohio State University said. Factors such as smoking or drinking during a pregnancy could stress a fetus in various ways, causing not only slight physical imperfections but also poorer impulse control.

Posted by fasstar at 10:34 PM CST

August 26, 2004

Alcohol Abuse Increases, Dependence Declines Across Decade

The number of American adults who abuse alcohol or are alcohol dependent rose from 13.8 million (7.41 percent) in 1991-1992 to 17.6 million (8.46 percent) in 2001-2002, according to results from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a study directed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

The NESARC study -- a representative survey of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population aged 18 years and older - showed that the rate of alcohol abuse* increased from 3.03 to 4.65 percent across the decade while the rate of alcohol dependence**, commonly known as alcoholism, declined from 4.38 to 3.81 percent.

Posted by fasstar at 06:14 PM CST

August 18, 2004

Early Intervention Helps Children With FAS/FAE

New research from the University of Washington (UW) finds that children born with fetal alcohol syndrome are less likely to have problems when they receive early intervention services, the Seattle Times reported Aug. 12.

Many children who suffer brain damage because their mothers drank while pregnant have social and family problems. Previous studies have shown that at some point in their lives, 61 percent of children diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or the related fetal alcohol effect (FAE) were later suspended or expelled from school or dropped out; 60 percent had trouble with the law; 50 percent were imprisoned or in inpatient psychiatric or addiction treatment; 49 percent had repeated inappropriate sexual behaviors; and 35 percent had alcohol or other drug problems.

But UW researchers found that a stable, nurturing home can curb these problems. "They can be successful in life, but they have special needs," said study author Ann Streissguth, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. "We need a community that is aware of that, and when that is understood from their birth on, it is so much better for them."

Posted by fasstar at 09:57 AM CST

Two Drinks During Pregnancy May Cause Neurological Problems

A pregnant woman who has as few as two alcoholic drinks could harm brain cells in her developing fetus and cause a lifetime of neurological problems, the Associated Press reported Feb. 14.

Animal studies by Dr. John W. Olney, a brain researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., showed that a small amount of alcohol during pregnancy could kill developing nerve cells in the brain of a fetus.

Posted by fasstar at 09:42 AM CST

August 17, 2004

Girls lead in teen alcohol use

A gradual shift over the past few years has resulted in teenage girls surpassing boys in the amount of alcohol they consume, the Christian Science Monitor reported Aug. 14.

In a study of 12- to 17-year-olds, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University in New York identified several factors that motivate girls to start drinking. Among them are an increased presence of drinking in the American culture, rising rates of stress and depression among youth, and absent parents.

Posted by fasstar at 02:31 PM CST

August 16, 2004

Paternal Contribution to FAS

Maternal alcohol use during pregnancy is associated with a wide range of adverse outcomes for the child. Many women who drink during pregnancy also have male partners who abuse alcohol. Existing data on paternal effects of alcohol abuse during the preconceptual period and at the time of conception are reviewed. Epidemiological data offer some support for a paternal influence on birth weight, congenital heart defects, and some evidence of mild cognitive impairments.

Posted by fasstar at 02:56 PM CST

FAS in the United States corrections system

The total population in the 54 entities was 3,080,904 inmates. Completed questionnaires were obtained from 42 entities (78%). The mean rate of reported substance abuse in offenders was 60.1%. Specialized programs for persons with mental retardation were reported for 44.4% of corrections facilities and 25.9% of community corrections facilities. Programs for pregnant women were reported for 46.3% of corrections facilities and 29.6% of community facilities. One program (1.9%) reported having a screening program for FAS in the corrections system. Only four programs (7.4%) reported having access to diagnostic services for FAS in the corrections facilities. Of the 3,080,904 offenders, only one offender was reported to have a diagnosis of FAS. Reported staff training needs were very large. In conclusion, corrections systems have high unmet needs to screen, identify, and treat offenders with FAS and ARND. Staff training needs are substantial.

Posted by fasstar at 02:47 PM CST

Indian Abuse of Alcohol and Other Drugs Labeled Epidemic

According to Charles Curie, head of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), American Indians have the highest rate of drug misuse, binge drinking, and mental illness among all racial and ethnic groups.

"Until very recently, despite good intentions and best efforts, our methods and plans to reach American Indians and Native Americans and improve access to services in their communities have been less than successful," he said.

Posted by fasstar at 02:19 PM CST

New Hope For Children With FAS

Newswise %u2014 Research by University of Washington Professor Ann Streissguth shows that people diagnosed with either fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or fetal alcohol effect (FAE) are more likely to escape social and relationship problems if they are diagnosed early in life and raised in a stable and nurturing environment.
In an article published in the Aug. 12 edition of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Streissguth, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in the UW School of Medicine, said that her study of 415 subjects showed that of all the factors that might positively or negatively affect a child with FAS or FAE, these two factors are most important in helping them escape negative experiences, including confinement for criminal violations and other reasons, trouble with the law, inappropriate sexual behavior, alcohol or drug problems and disrupted education.

Posted by fasstar at 12:39 PM CST

August 11, 2004

New Zealand Scoop: Foetal Alcohol Syndrome should be notifiable

Foetal alcohol syndrome needs to battled with far more than just warning labels on alcohol bottles, United Future health spokeswoman Judy Turner said today in supporting a call for it to be recognised as a notifiable disability.

Posted by fasstar at 08:22 PM CST

French minister says yes to warning labels on bottles of alcohol

ARIS, Aug 5 (AFP) - French Health Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy on Thursday called for labels on bottles of alcohol to warn pregnant women of the dangers that drinking could pose for their unborn children.
His statements came one day after prosecutors in the northern French city of Lille began an investigation into whether alcohol producers should be held liable for the health problems of children born to mothers who drink.

Posted by fasstar at 06:09 PM CST

August 9, 2004

Good Samaritan with FAS saves day - and purse

LORETTA FERRARO just knew when the thief ran out of the Chef%u2019s Spot restaurant with her purse that it was the last she would see of it, and the extra money she was carrying for her monthly bus trip to Atlantic City.

She and her friend Pat gave chase through the streets of Upper Darby, yelling for help, but with her heart condition she knew she wouldn't last long.

Then, the stranger got involved. "This fellow was standing on the street with a cup of coffee in his hand," Ferraro said. "He heard us yelling, and he dropped his coffee and ran after him, too."

Posted by fasstar at 10:58 PM CST

Alaska awarded $3.5 million in grants, includes funding for services for families with FASD

$642,820 for health services to: Stone Soup Group to provide family support services to families in Anchorage's Mountain View area; the National Resource Center for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Elders at the University of Alaska Anchorage to improve health care among senior citizens; and to the Alaska FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) Diagnostic Team and the Stone Soup Group to improve services for families who have children with special needs.

Posted by fasstar at 02:26 PM CST

French inquiry into alcohol-harmed babies

IN WHAT is believed to be the first case of its kind in Europe, a French public prosecutor has started a criminal investigation into the damage caused by alcohol to unborn babies.

The public prosecutor's office in Lille in northern France has started a preliminary inquiry, accusing "X", or persons unknown, of "placing the lives of others in danger, accidental wounding and fraudulent marketing".

Posted by fasstar at 01:45 PM CST

August 2, 2004

New Index Measures Self-Control, Predicts Drug Abuse Vulnerability in Adolescent Boys

Research Findings
Vol. 19, No. 2 (July 2004)

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research have identified a set of characteristics that appears to predict a boy's vulnerability to substance use disorder (SUD) in young adulthood. Once validated for use with the general population, this new construct, "neurobehavioral disinhibition," may help clinicians tailor drug abuse prevention programs for children most in need of support.

Posted by fasstar at 06:57 PM CST

August 1, 2004

FASD Youth in Danger

PRINCE ALBERT - A street outreach worker in Prince Albert says young adults affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) need better services.
Ken Ward says he's met many young people who are trying to deal with the added challenge of the disorder.
"There seems to be a tendency that this age group is falling through the system because they are not understood," says Ward.

Posted by fasstar at 12:02 AM CST

July 29, 2004

Fetal Alcohol Damage: Cell Suicide

New research reveals how heavy drinking during the third trimester of pregnancy can cause brain damage in babies. This ScienCentral News video has more.

Posted by fasstar at 12:25 PM CST

July 28, 2004

ScienCentral: Fetal Alcohol Hope

Despite warnings, some women still drink alcohol while pregnant, and each year thousands of babies are born brain damaged.
As this ScienCentral News video reports, new research suggests there may be hope.

Posted by fasstar at 10:32 AM CST

July 7, 2004

Sandy's Law: Legislative Record

Consideration of Bill 43, An Act to amend the Liquor Licence Act by requiring signage cautioning pregnant women that the consumption of alcohol while pregnant is the cause of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Posted by fasstar at 09:27 AM CST

Antioxidants May Fight Alcohol-Linked Birth Defects

Antioxidants taken during pregnancy might help prevent birth defects in babies born to women who abuse alcohol, suggests a study conducted in mice.
Researchers report 36 percent fewer limb malformations in pups born to pregnant mice that consumed daily amounts of ethyl alcohol plus a new antioxidant compound, EUK-134.

Posted by fasstar at 09:13 AM CST

July 6, 2004

U.S. birth mothers choose to place their infants with Canadian families.

Anne Melcombe was among the first to adopt a U.S. child. In 1993, Melcombe, a Vancouver social worker, was ending her marriage. She had been a foster parent for many years, but longed for a more permanent relationship with a child. As a single person, she was ineligible for a healthy Canadian infant, but she could get a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. She declined, unable to envision a child needing her well beyond adulthood.

Posted by fasstar at 10:03 AM CST

July 4, 2004

10% of Colorado's moms-to-be imbibe

Colorado women were more likely to drink during their pregnancy than women in seven other states, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Thursday.
About 10 percent of Colorado women surveyed in 2000-2001 reported that they drank during the last three months of their pregnancy.

Posted by fasstar at 12:36 AM CST

June 28, 2004

Hoosier mothers-to-be bucking a national trend

Washington D.C., June 23 - Eleven-year-old Tyler Whitcomb plays happily now with his baby sister. But he had real problems when he was her age "because my birth mom drank alcohol."

Posted by fasstar at 12:06 PM CST

June 20, 2004 - News - Abused before birth 06/20/04

Kristy Botka can say three words: "Hi," "bye" and "ma."
"And she's 85 to 90 percent potty trained," said her mother, Vivian Botka.
Kristy Botka is 20 years old.
She is severely and profoundly disabled. She has autism, cerebral palsy and lateral curvature of the spine, a high-arch palate, and she is hearing, vision and speech impaired.
Vivian Botka, who adopted Kristy when she was 6 months old, knows the reason: Kristy has fetal alcohol syndrome.

Posted by fasstar at 09:07 PM CST

May 25, 2004

Adoptive parents say love conquers all

Alex came into McLaughlin's care as a foster child when she was 4 months old. Although no one knew how the illness would play out, it was known had fetal alcohol effects, a slightly milder form of fetal alcohol syndrome that nonetheless can lead to permanent impairment of a child's ability to function physically, mentally and socially. At 7, Alex was suicidal. Today, she can neither read nor write. She takes daily medications.

Alex's half-brother Jimmy, now 14, whom McLaughlin adopted when he was 13 days old, suffers from the same illness.

"At one moment, he can be a typical 14-year-old, and the next minute he can be walking around with a teddy bear, acting like a 5-year-old," said McLaughlin, who has spent countless hours at school trying to get her kids into classes where they're challenged to do better, but yet still can succeed. "There aren't enough services school-wise."

Adoption is such a "wonderful way to build a family, but it's not for everybody," said O'Connor, who's 47. "Do you have to be there every day when they get off the bus? Yes. Have we been to Disney World? No."

Posted by fasstar at 10:26 AM CST

Guilty plea in murder of woman with FAS

Woman pleads guilty in street family murder

Williams described her daughter, whom she adopted as a baby, as a person who fought her entire life to live independently, even though fetal alcohol syndrome had reduced her mental capacity to that of a child. "To know that her last hours were hours of torture, being held against her will, and murdered by people she thought were her friends . . . it's an absolute nightmare, " she said.

Posted by fasstar at 10:17 AM CST

April 24, 2004

L1 Molecule and FAS

Research Finds Molecular Cause of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Researchers have identified a key molecule involved in fetal alcohol syndrome.
They are now working toward a drug that might stop the damage done by this leading preventable cause of mental retardation.
"What we have now is something that, at least in mice, prevents the procedures that produce this kind of damage in the brain," says Dr. Michael E. Charness, an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and leader of the research team.
The molecule's scientific name is simple: L1. It helps guide cells of the developing fetal brain to their proper positions by letting those cells communicate with each other. Excess alcohol causes mental retardation and other defects by interfering with that communication process, says a report in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Posted by fasstar at 05:27 PM CST

April 5, 2004

Anchorage Summit

Experts meet to discuss fetal alcohol syndrome

SUMMIT: Booze is dangerous at all times during pregnancy.

Anchorage Daily News

(Published: March 16, 2004)

A leading Washington researcher started Alaska's annual Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Summit last week with a warning: Drinking alcohol at any time during a pregnancy can harm a baby.

Facial deformities in infants occur when a woman drinks alcohol during her first trimester, said directors of Alaska's FAS program. Drinking in the second and third trimesters can cause nervous system problems in infants, said Dr. Kieran O'Malley, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of University of Washington.

"Alcohol is unique," O'Malley said during his keynote address. "Its effect is throughout pregnancy."

Posted by fasstar at 01:08 AM CST

Another Book by Nasdijj

Geronimo's Bones



''Anger is a short madness,'' Horace declared in 67 B.C., but right here, right now, Nasdijj can tell you precisely how wrong that old poet was. Fury has settled deeply within Nasdijj's heart, eaten into his marrow, and it is not leaving any time soon. ''I am an angry man,'' he writes in this stunningly honest third installment of memoirs, gushing forth a lifetime's rage that threatens to sweep away reason, contentment, stories and memories, even those that must be kept.

Posted by fasstar at 12:58 AM CST

Canada bill to post warnings

Ont. Liberal wants bars to warn pregnant women of dangers of alcohol to fetus

Keith Leslie
Canadian Press

Monday, March 29, 2004

TORONTO -- An Ontario Liberal backbencher who recently lost his son to fetal alcohol syndrome wants to change the province's Liquor Licence Act to ensure pregnant women are warned about the risks of drinking to a fetus.
"They need to know they're putting a child's life at risk," said Liberal Ernie Parsons on Monday after introducing a private member's bill that would force bars and liquor stores to post signs cautioning pregnant women that drinking can cause fetal alcohol syndrome.
"The short title of this bill is Sandy's Law, in honour of our son Sandy, who died on Jan. 29 from the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome," Parsons told the legislature. He was 25 years old.

Posted by fasstar at 12:55 AM CST

Inmate with undiagnosed FAS

Inmate reverses decision to be put to death in electric chair

Associated Press Writer

A death row inmate scheduled to die later this month by electrocution instead of lethal injection has changed his mind, his attorney said Thursday.

Posted by fasstar at 12:46 AM CST

Another Family Destroyed

Rush to lay charges tears family apart
Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Saturday, March 27, 2004

A decade after the Martensville and Klassen scandals, yet another Saskatchewan family has been destroyed by sexual assault allegations. The family's story is told today for the first time.

It's the story of an ordinary couple who adopted five disadvantaged kids -- four of them damaged by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) -- and provided them with a loving home.

Posted by fasstar at 12:40 AM CST

April 4, 2004

KidsHealth News Article

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
March 29, 2004 02:57:08 AM PST ,

What is the leading known cause of mental and physical birth defects, surpassing both spina bifida and Down syndrome? Which drug produces more severe abnormalities in a developing fetus than heroin, cocaine, or marijuana?
The answer to both questions is the same: alcohol. Alcohol (wine, beer, or liquor) is the most common preventable cause of birth defects in the United States.

Posted by fasstar at 11:46 PM CST

March 13, 2004

Inquest Into Death of Manitoba Girl With FAS

Girl's Death - Soceity's Failure

Winnipeg Free Press March 13, 2004, Reported by Mike McIntyre

A Manitoba Judge-haunted by images of 23-month-old Nadine Beaulieu's battered, emaciated body-has issued a stinging report into society's failure to protect the little girl from a gruesome death.
The 200-page inquest report raises alarming questions about Child and Family Services and the failure of the justice system to bring Nadine's killer to justice.

Posted by fasstar at 05:06 PM CST

The Frightening Irony of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome


Victoria Times Colonist - March 9, 2004 pages 14-19

A lengthy feature in today's Victoria Times Colonist examines the incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome and the challenges it poses for the criminal justice system. The report notes that the B.C. Attorney General's Ministry has no specific programs for addressing the needs of those with FAS and statistics on the number of people with FAS going through the criminal justice system are hard to find. The story features Ro deBree and her 28-year-old alcohol-affected son.

Posted by fasstar at 11:42 AM CST

March 10, 2004

Peripheral Nerve Damage in Babies Exposed to Alcohol

Prenatal Alcohol Causes Nerve Damage

More Damage Found in Babies of Moms Who Drink
Mon Mar 8, 2004

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. researchers said on Monday they had found a whole new level of damage in babies born to mothers who drank heavily during pregnancy -- this time to the nerves in their arms and legs.

The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, is the first to look beyond the well-known damage to the brain and spinal cord in babies of mothers who drink and to find damage outside the central nervous system.

"Infants born to mothers who drink heavily during pregnancy are known to be at risk for mental retardation and birth defects," Dr. Duane Alexander of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which directed the study, said in a statement.

"This is the first study to show that these infants may suffer peripheral nerve damage as well."

Posted by fasstar at 10:49 AM CST

March 3, 2004

North Carolina Warning Signs 'Pregnancy, alcohol do not mix'

DURHAM -- A new sign hangs among the rows of whiskey, vodka and gin at the Alcoholic Beverage Control store on Chapel Hill Boulevard.
"WARNING: Pregnancy and alcohol do not mix," it says in bold black letters.
Signs like this, showing a pregnant woman and the message in both English and Spanish, must now be posted prominently in all 400 North Carolina ABC stores, under a state bill passed last July.

Posted by fasstar at 11:11 AM CST

March 1, 2004

Reno Survey on Teen Drinking and Sex

Our children at risk

Sex and drinking are two of the most common risky behaviors among high school students in the Washoe County and Carson City school districts, according to a federally funded survey.

(Teresa's note: They mention birth control failure and pregnancy, but they don't mention the risk of alcohol to the unborn child.)

Posted by fasstar at 01:32 PM CST

February 28, 2004

Physicians, Scientists to Media: Stop Using the Term "Crack Baby"

"Crack Baby" Term Not Valid

Top Medical Doctors and Scientists Urge Major Media Outlets to Stop Perpetuating "Crack Baby" Myth

Signatories from Leading Hospitals and Research Institutes in US and Canada Agree That Term Lacks Scientific Basis and Is Dangerous to Children

Letter Sent to Washington Post, Arizona Republic, LA Weekly, Charleston Post and Courier, Amarillo Globe-News and Other Media Using These Terms

Posted by fasstar at 10:06 PM CST

February 25, 2004

MN Legislators Target FAS

Lawmakers target fetal-alcohol malady

Pregnant women who drink too much could be committed involuntarily for treatment under a bill introduced by legislators who want to reduce the number of babies hurt by fetal-alcohol syndrome.

Posted by fasstar at 09:11 PM CST

February 23, 2004

FASD Article

Keeping Families Together Act
Sentate Bill 1704
House Bill 3243
This legislation was introduced in October 2003. This bill if passed will amend the Public Health Service Act to establish a State family support grant program to end the practice of parents giving legal custody of their seriously emotionally disturbed children to State agencies for the purpose of obtaining mental health services for those children. This is a response to the crisis in our nation presented by ineffective and inadequate services available to families whose children have serious emotional disturbances.

Posted by fasstar at 06:20 PM CST

Journal Articles on FASD

The NOFAS web site has a complete listing of abstracts for all journal articles on FASD that have been published in the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) quarterly, peer-reviewed scientific journal Alcohol Research & Health (formerly Alcohol Health & Research World).

Journal Articles

Posted by fasstar at 05:30 PM CST

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FAS Community Resource Center