NIH improves guidelines for diagnosing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Experts from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an arm of the National Institutes of Health, have expanded and updated widely used guidelines established in 2005 for the diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, according to a new paper published in the journal Pediatrics.

The updated guidelines were developed over the course of one year and involved the analysis of data from 10,000 people involved in prenatal alcohol exposure studies funded by the NIAAA. Guideline updates include a new definition of documented prenatal alcohol exposure, new strategies for evaluating facial and physical deformities related to FASD and new information on cognitive and behavioral impairments seen among the four different subtypes of FASD.

"These new guidelines will be a valuable resource for clinicians to accurately diagnose infants and children who were affected by alcohol exposure before birth," said NIAAA Director George F. Koob, PhD. "They represent the most data-driven diagnostic criteria for fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder produced to date."

According to CDC survey findings, 1 in 10 pregnant women aged 18 to 44 years reported using alcohol within the past 30 days and 1 in 33 reported binge drinking within the same time frame.

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