Discoveries and Data: Exposures and Risk Factors

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COMMENTS ON FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME RATES

Although the Program’s registry includes cases noted in medical records to have “fetal alcohol syndrome” or “fetal alcohol effects,” we don’t routinely report these rates. We feel they probably underestimate of the true impact of prenatal alcohol exposure for many reasons:

bullet-9727537 Our registry includes only cases diagnosed during a hospital admission or genetics clinic visit; cases seen elsewhere will be missed.
bullet-9727537 Many clinicians do not suspect fetal alcohol syndrome until developmental delays become obvious, often after age 1—the limit for inclusion in our registry.
bullet-9727537 Diagnostic criteria vary among health practitioners, resulting in uneven case ascertainment.
bullet-9727537 Because the diagnosis is subjective, there may be bias in identifying babies with this condition.

One source of more accurate data on fetal alcohol syndrome is FASSNet, a standardized multiple-source surveillance system supported by Centers for Disease Control.