What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)?
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a diagnostic term used to describe impacts on the brain and body of individuals prenatally exposed to alcohol. FASD is a lifelong disability. Individuals with FASD will experience some degree of challenges in their daily living, and need support with motor skills, physical health, learning, memory, attention, communication, emotional regulation, and social skills to reach their full potential. Each individual with FASD is unique and has areas of both strengths and challenges.
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). Based on the most current research, the estimated prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the general Canadian population is 4% (CanFASD).
Learn more about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder at these websites.