What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)?
FASD is an umbrella diagnostic term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual who was prenatally exposed to alcohol. These effects may include physical, cognitive, memory, behavioural and learning difficulties with lifelong implications.
FASD is a brain-based and therefore, invisible injury. While individuals may share common features, every individual is unique with their own strengths and challenges.
FASD EFFECTS VARY WIDELY
Research and clinical experience over many years has demonstrated that the extent and location of neurological injury produces a wide range of physical, behavioural, and cognitive symptoms. Currently under the 2016 revised Canadian Diagnostic Guidelines there are two diagnoses available:
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder with Sentinel Facial Features
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder without Sentinel Facial Features.
Sometimes a diagnosis may have to be deferred and then the term “At Risk for Neurodevelopmental Disorder & FASD, associated with prenatal alcohol exposure” may be used until a diagnosis can be offered.
FASD IS FOUND IN ALL CULTURES AND LEVELS OF SOCIETY
FASD is an invisible, life-long neurodevelopmental disorder that occurs in all cultures and levels of society. In Health Canada’s Framework for Action on FASD (2003), the incidence is estimated to be nine in 1,000 live births (0.9 percent). Estimates in the US recently suggested even higher rates ranging from 1.1 to 5% (May et al., 2018).
Learn more about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder at these websites.