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FASD in the News




2024 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Releases

DAWN: Findings from Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits, January 2021- September 2023

Annually, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) releases nationally representative data on key findings from drug-related emergency department visits.  

  • There were an estimated 8,566,725 ED visits related to alcohol

  • Alcohol was the most prevalent substance involved in substance-related ED visits

  • Alcohol accounted for twice the number of visits compared to opioids or cannabis

  • Universal screening is critical to prevention and diagnosis of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and FASD

FASD Respect Act clears major hurdle toward enactment

December 12, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, The FASD Respect Act (S.1800) introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), cleared a major hurdle toward enactment into law by passing the U.S. Senate HELP Committee as part of The Support Reauthorization Act (S.3393). The FASD Respect Act, now heading to the floor of the U.S. Senate, is much-needed bipartisan legislation addressing FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) on the national level. The legislation will positively impact the lives of people diagnosed with FASD or prenatal substance exposure. An estimated 1 in 20 children in the US are affected by FASD, most of whom are not diagnosed.

Read more here

Media Inquiries: or 202-785-4585

Editorial: Perspectives and recent advances in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders research

Akison, Lisa, et al. 

Front. Neurosci., 15 December 2023. Sec. Neurodevelopment Volume 17 - 2023

FASD is the most common cause of environmentally-induced intellectual disability, and a serious public health problem. Unfortunately, our understanding of this predominantly neurodevelopmental disorder across the lifespan, as well as its etiology and mechanistic underpinnings, is incomplete. The team of Co-Editors have identified three themes that embody the twenty-eight peer reviewed articles constituting this Research Topic:

1. Effects of prenatal ethanol exposure on behavior and brain function.

2. Molecular and cellular mechanisms of ethanol-induced damage.

3. Neuroanatomical and brain structure changes due to prenatal ethanol exposure.

Read more here



Klobuchar, Murkowski Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Support Families Impacted by FASD Passes Senate HELP Committee

“U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced that their bipartisan FASD Respect Act of 2023 passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. This legislation reauthorizes programs to help individuals and families impacted by FASD or prenatal alcohol exposure."

August 2023

FASD United creates a one-pager on FASD and the Foster Care System

Go here for more one-pagers on FASD and employment, healthcare, justice, education systems

Go here for information on Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Foster Care in Maine











































July 2023









National Organization Endorses the FASD Respect Act

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has become the fifth national organization to sign on to a letter of support for S1800/HR3946: The FASD Respect Act. This organization is a return supporter, having endorsed the FASD Respect Act introduced in the 117th Congress. Thank you to the advocates who have tirelessly worked to spread awareness and widen the circle.

Check for listings in your state or area and let your lawmakers know about the organizations in your area who think The FASD Respect Act should be passed this legislative session. Are you part of a business, group or organization that would endorse the FASD Respect Act? Click Here. Are you a person wanting to make a difference? Click Here.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has become the fifth national organization to sign on to a letter of support for S1800/HR3946: The FASD Respect Act. This organization is a return supporter, having endorsed the FASD Respect Act introduced in the 117th Congress. Thank you to the advocates who have tirelessly worked to spread awareness and widen the circle.

Check for listings in your state or area and let your lawmakers know about the organizations in your area who think The FASD Respect Act should be passed this legislative session. Are you part of a business, group or organization that would endorse the FASD Respect Act? Click Here. Are you a person wanting to make a difference? Click here.

Maine Organization Endorsements: Maine Chapter of the AAP, Maine Chapter of the NASW

May 2023

Dr. Jeffrey Wozniak PhD uses choline to help children affected by FASD

"Did your parents make you take vitamins growing up, and you never really understood why? Well, your parents did you a favor because certain in-takes of nutrients can have enormous effects on your childhood brain development. An application of this concept is being tested by Jeffrey Wozniak, PhD, LP, who created a choline-based vitamin treatment to help enhance brain development in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), which are brain abnormalities as a result of prenatal alcohol exposure."

Additional information here.

Participate in research go here

Ireland to introduce world-first alcohol health labelling policy

Sellers will have to warn of the specific risks of liver disease and fatal cancers from drinking alcohol. They will also have to notify buyers of the risks to pregnancy, the calorie content of the beverage and the number of grams of alcohol it contains.

The new labels are intended to help inform people who aren't fully aware of the health effects of drinking, officials said. According to the annual government-commissioned Healthy Ireland survey, 79% of respondents didn't know about the risk of breast cancer from drinking more than recommended, 60% didn't know about the risks of bowel cancer and 7% believed it was safe to drink small amounts of alcohol while pregnant.

Australian Olympian turned women’s health doctor, Dr. Jana Pittman wants to get Australians talking about alcohol-free pregnancies, and safe breastfeeding practices.

Announced this month as an ambassador for the Every Moment Matters campaign, Dr. Pittman is encouraging Australians to learn more about how every moment matters in a pregnancy when it comes to alcohol use. Developed by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and endorsed and funded by the federal government, Every Moment Matters is Australia’s first nationwide public awareness campaign to raise awareness of the risk of alcohol use during pregnancy.

“In my experience with friends, family and even patients, I can see there is so much misinformation about alcohol and what is and isn’t safe during pregnancy and also while breastfeeding,” Dr Pittman said. “I’m hoping we can start more conversations about supporting alcohol-free pregnancies, and promote evidence-based strategies to ensure breastmilk that is fed to babies is alcohol-free too.


April 2023

Exposure to Alcohol Through Breastmilk Affects Brain and Behavioral Development

Neuroscience News  April 20, 2023

Summary: Exposure to alcohol through a mother’s breastmilk can have serious and lasting implications for brain and behavioral development in children. Researchers found alcohol exposure via breastmilk resulted in smaller body and brain growth and decreased cortical length in mouse models.


Previous research on alcohol use and breastfeeding/outcomes

May, Philip PhD, et al. Breastfeeding and Maternal Alcohol Use:Prevalence and Effects on Child Outcomes and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Reprod Toxicol. 2016 August ; 63: 13–21. doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2016.05.002.


Objective—Determine any effects that maternal alcohol consumption during the breastfeeding period has on child outcomes.

Methods—Population-based samples of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), normally-developing children, and their mothers were analyzed for differences in child outcomes.

Conclusions—Alcohol use during the period of breastfeeding was found to significantly compromise a child's development.

Legislation Introduced in New York to Include FASD as Developmental Disability

The New York State Senate has seen legislation (A.2297/S.1866.) introduced by Senator Samara Brouk of the 55th District and Assembly member Sarah Clark of the 136th District that seeks to amend the Mental Health Hygiene Law, adding FASDs to the definition of “developmental disability”.  This change would include fetal alcohol syndrome, partial fetal alcohol syndrome, and alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder.  2023 has already seen similar legislation introduced in North Dakota, where the State Senate seeks to include FASDs in the definition of developmental disability as part of a larger FASD related bill.

States that  currently include FASD under IDEA category , Other Health Impairment*:          




States with pending FASD legislation:

      •New York  S 1866

      •North Dakota SB 2335

States with pending FASD legislation that would  increase comprehensive services for all children, youth, adults with FASD:

       •Washington  HB 1168

* "Other Health Impairment" is one of the 13 categories of disability listed in our nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under IDEA, a child who has an “other health impairment” is very likely to be eligible for special services to help the child address his or her educational, developmental, and functional needs resulting from the disability. Currently, most states do not include FASD as a named condition under the OHI category. In these states, a student with FASD could be eligible for services; it requires more effort and the student may not ultimately qualify for services, or the student may not receive FASD specific support.

For more general information and to see how other states obtain support for students with FASD go here  and   here.


January 2023

CDC  Alcohol Use, Screening, and Brief Intervention Among Pregnant Persons — 24 U.S. Jurisdictions, 2017 and 2019 Weekly / January 20, 2023 / 72(3);55–62  Jackie Luong, et al.

  • 80% of pregnant persons reported being asked about their alcohol use

  • Only 16% of those with past 30-day alcohol consumption were advised by a health care provider to quit or reduce their alcohol use.

Disparities in alcohol screening were observed among pregnant persons with lower educational attainment.

Alcohol screening and brief intervention (ASBI) is an evidence-based tool to reduce alcohol consumption in adults, including pregnant persons. Implementation of recommended Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention (ASBI) among pregnant persons can help prevent alcohol use or reduce current drinking. Strategies to enhance ASBI include integrating screenings into electronic health records, increasing reimbursement for ASBI services, and development of additional tools including electronic ASBI.

There is no known safe amount of alcohol, type of alcohol, or timing of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to become pregnant. Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord. Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. These disabilities are known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs)

AAP Screening for Prenatal Alcohol Exposure


October 2022

Passage of landmark law in California, SB 1016, for the first time specifies Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) as a named condition that qualifies a person to receive special education services under the category “Other Health Impairment.”  This will improve the lives of thousands of people living with FASD, a disability that affects up to 1 in 20 school children, making it the most prevalent, yet mostly unrecognized, developmental disability in the US.

Change the law in Maine so that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders is a "named condition" that qualifies a student to receive special services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) category of "Other Health Impairment."

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is currently not a recognized category for special education under IDEA. It is also not named as a disorder under the Other Health Impaired category (Scroll to #2, J), by the Maine Department of Education. Hence, students with the most prevalent developmental disability in the US  are being underserved in school districts across the state, unable to make the most of their neurodiversity and many skills and talents; due to lack of services and support in childhood, these students and their families often suffer lifelong consequences. 

There is precedent for this kind of legislation. Other states including Alaska, Minnesota, and now California consider FASD as a qualifying condition for special education. Advocates strongly believe that by recognizing and appropriately addressing FASD in education the trend towards secondary disabilities can be disrupted and the school-to-prison pipeline for students on the FASD spectrum can be broken. 

For more information about IDEA and "other health impairment" re:FASD.

Choline Supplementation as a Neurodevelopmental Intervention in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study (CHOLINE4)  Clinical Trial 

Dr. Jeff Wozniak PhD University of Minnesota and NIAAA 

Open Recruitment      Children Ages 30-72 months  Eligibility details here

This is a randomized, double-blind controlled trial of choline supplementation in children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). The study is comparing two administration durations (3 months vs. 6 months) of choline. The primary outcome measures are cognitive measures.

This project is the fourth in a series of randomized, double-blind controlled trials of choline bitartrate in children ages 2.5 - 5 (under 6) years with prenatal alcohol exposure. Pre-clinical data suggests that choline may attenuate the cognitive deficits caused by prenatal alcohol exposure (especially memory deficits). This study will evaluate the effects of daily choline supplementation in two dosing regimens (3 months choline vs. 6 months choline). 

Previous study on FASD and choline supplementation

Dr. Wozniak PhD  Video (2015) Choline supplementation and PAE

Prenatal and Postnatal Choline Supplementation Ernst, Abigail, et al. Nutrients. 2022 Feb; 14(3): 688

August 2022

Alcohol Consumption is Increasing During Pregnancy: Why Experts Are Alarmed

  • A new report in JAMA Network states that heavy alcohol consumption increased among pregnant women between 2011 and 2020.

  • Experts say this is a worrisome trend because any amount of alcohol during pregnancy poses risks for an unborn child.

  • They say stress, anxiety, and depression can lead to alcohol use during pregnancy, but they add that there also appears to be a general relaxation about drinking while pregnant.


"It was disheartening to see that both binge drinking and heavy alcohol consumption did increase in pregnant women in the last decade. I’m not particularly surprised by it, unfortunately,” said Dr. Vanessa Parisi, OB-GYN, the president of the New Jersey OBGYN Society and a team member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Prevention Program.

The work has to start with the education of the medical provider. How to ask open-ended questions without stigma. To tell our patients there is no safe amount, type, or timing of alcohol in pregnancy.

We should all be using a validated screening tool like AUDIT-US…Properly tackling this at preconception and annual visits can address the issue and drastically decrease the incidence of FASDs.”  Dr. Vanessa Parisi MD ACOG.

July 2022

The Overlooked Toll of Drinking While Pregnant    Emma Yasinski

National Geographic  July 2022

Studies have estimated that fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or FASD, affect between

1 and 5 percent of the population, though experts suspect the prevalence is even higher.

“It wasn't until 14 years into our son’s life that we really started to connect the dots,” that the prenatal exposure to alcohol affected his development and behavior, says Sheagren, a filmmaker in Minnesota. He was surprised. “This is such a prevalent issue,” he says. “How come I didn’t know?”

Alcohol study funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation finds only risks, zero benefits for young adults

The analysis—part of the wider Global Burden of Disease study- was published in The Lancet medical journal July 14, 2022.

It found that for young adults between the ages of 15 and 39:

  • There were zero health benefits—only risk

  • Globally, almost 60% of people who consumed unsafe amounts of alcohol in 2020 fell into this age bracket

  • Our message is simple: Young people should not drink.

February 2022

New Tools May Help Diagnose Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Emma Yasinski  The Smithsonian

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders may look like other conditions. Biomarkers could provide a more accurate diagnosis. If conditions stemming from exposure to alcohol in-utero can be better identified, then scientists can more effectively research treatments.

January 2022

The CDC published its latest MMWR (1/7 pregnancies alcohol exposed) 

Alcohol Consumption and Binge Drinking During Pregnancy Among Adults Aged 18–49 Years — United States, 2018–2020   

In the U.S. 13.5% of pregnant adults reported drinking at least one alcoholic drink in the last 30 days, 5.2% reported binge drinking - four or more drinks on at least one occasion in the last 30days. This is an increase of 2 percentage points from 2019 data, in which 11.5% of pregnancies were alcohol exposed. In New England (Region 1) the rate of reported alcohol use among pregnant adults was 1 in 6, 16.4%. This was the second highest rate in the country - Region 9 was 16.6%

Latest statistics from the CDC/DHHS on Alcohol Use in Pregnancy

According to the DHHS CDC  January 2022 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR):

  • Current alcohol use among pregnant adults during 2018–2020 13.5%, and 5.2%  binge drinking

  • Both measures were 2 percentage points higher than during 2015–2017. 

  • The rate of current alcohol use for pregnant adults in New England (Region 1) was higher than the national rate, at 16.4%, 1 in 6.

  • PRAMS Maine (CDC Data) reported the rate of alcohol use by pregnant adults was 10% or greater in six of Maine's sixteen counties.

  • Sagadahoc County, 1/8  Lincoln County  1/7,  Cumberland County 1/6.

September 2021

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: How FASDs Occur, Why They Go Undiagnosed, What Can Be Done to Help Children With These Conditions

Jennifer Rooks of Maine Public, "Maine Calling", interviews two of FASD Maine's co-founders Constance Mazelsky and Madonna Mooney, Dr. Douglas Waite AAP FASD Educator and Division Chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Bronxcare Health System, and Susan Shepherd Carlson, retired juvenile court judge and former First Lady of Minnesota; board member, National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Senator Susan Collins Press Release

Senator Collins Announces her co-sponsorship of the FASD Respect Act, S.2238. 

“Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders can cause tremendous harm to a child’s physical, mental, behavioral, and cognitive development,” said Senator Collins. “Amid FASD Awareness Month, this important bill would strengthen federal, state, and local programs and funding to support individuals and families affected by these heartbreaking conditions. This legislation is critical to protecting the health of mothers and their babies.”

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