Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) are identified as a category of birth disorders caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. These can include physical or intellectual anomalies, such as cardiac, skeletal, visual, aural, and fine or gross motor problems. (Callanan, 2013) Prevention would involve alcohol use prevention programs for women who are pregnant, and treatment for FAS and FASD would be aimed at helping those affected realize their full potential through both family and individual interventions. While there is no cure for FAS or FASD, appropriate treatments can aide individuals with these diagnoses to minimize the effects.
According to the British Medical Association in 2007, FASD is the leading cause of intellectual disabilities that do not have a genetic cause in the Western World. (Callanan, 2013) In the United States, FASD is said to affect approximately 9.1 in every 1000 births. (Greene, 2007) In the mid-19th century, the British noted that babies born to mothers who were alcoholics had a shriveled appearance, and were smaller than typical. (Jones & Streissguth, 2010) In spite of this, no additional research was undertaken until 1973 in the United States, when Dr. Shirley Anderson began following 11 different children who had been born to mothers who were alcoholics. As she followed them through childhood, she noted similar physical and facial characteristics in four of those children, including “microcephaly, short palpebral fissures, and a smooth philtrum.” (Jones & Streissguth, 2010) This led to the identification of multiple other children with similar abnormalities, and who also demonstrated varying degrees of global developmental delays. Based on these observations and research, the term Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was introduced. (Jones & Streissguth, 2010) In spite of this, the United States has not been proactive in identifying and accommodating the needs of mothers with alcohol dependence and problems, although they have been world leaders in educating its citizens to the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, with the Surgeon General’s warning in 1981, and the Alcohol Beverage Labeling Act in 1988. (Streissguth, 2010)
Currently, worldwide prevalence rates suggest that FASD affects as many as one in 100 children, and a study in England suggests that the incidence of FASD is underreported there. (Callanan, 2013) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are likely underreported everywhere, based on this information, which makes early treatment interventions more difficult.
Ideally, the best prevention for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is prevention, however women who are consuming alcohol during pregnancy may be less inclined to seek prenatal care, making it difficult to help them reduce and stop their alcohol consumption, which would prevent the occurrence of FASD and FAS. Since this is the case, FASD and FAS must be treated, rather than...