FASD in the News


May 17, 2022

Andrew Peterson FASD advocate and three time Special Olympics Gold Medalist

Interviewed by Samuel Habib of “My Disability Roadmap”  NYT Op Docs

My Disability Roadmap is OUT TODAY with captions and audio description available. No subscription needed to watch! This new film follows Samuel Habib as he navigates the path to adulthood with a disability, creating a road map for himself and other young adults facing an ableist world. Please watch and share! 

To learn more about Andrew's story, his supportive family, and his work today, click here.  

January 2022

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

According to the DHHS CDC  January 2022 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) the rate of current alcohol use among pregnant adults during 2018–2020 rose to 13.5%, and 5.2% reported 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.

Another source of data on self-reported alcohol use during pregnancy - PRAMS (Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System).

PRAMS Maine reported the rate of alcohol use by pregnant adults in the last three months of pregnancy was 10% or greater in seven of Maine's sixteen counties. The rate jumped to 1 in 8 in Sagadahoc County, 1 in 7 in Lincoln County, and 1 in 6 in Cumberland County.

April 2022                         

                                              "Are You FASD Informed?"

FASD Maine  A Silver Level Sponsor of the Maine AAP Spring Conference April 2022

Honors SAFEST Choice Learning Collaborative Participants




































































NIAAA (collaborator) study on Choline Supplementation as a Neurodevelopmental Intervention in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study (CHOLINE4)

Currently Recruiting

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.

Eligible: Children ages 30 to 72 months

Jeff Wozniak PhD University of Minnesota

For more information about participating in this study

For more information about previous choline studies

Collaborator:National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

March 2022

Alcohol-Related Deaths Spiked During the Pandemic, a Study Shows

March 22, 2022 New York Times Roni Caryn Rabin

The deaths were up 25 percent in 2020 compared with 2019 as stressors accumulated and treatment was delayed, according to a new report...Drinking has been going up for 10 or 15 years among adults, and the trend accelerated in 2020, as some of the motivations to drink changed: Stress-related drinking increased, and drinking due to boredom increased...Among adults younger than 65, alcohol-related deaths actually outnumbered deaths from Covid-19 in 2020; some 74,408 Americans ages 16 to 64 died of alcohol-related causes, while 74,075 individuals under 65 died of Covid.


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.

Dr. Christie Petrenko PhD 

FASD Hope Podcast Interview 

Dr. Christie Petrenko PhD discusses the final stage of the resourceful, innovative and accessible "Families Moving Forward Connect App".  Dr. Petrenko is a clinical psychologist and researcher who has been conducting research with individuals with FASD since 2003. She completed her graduate training with Edward Riley and Sarah Mattson in San Diego, CA in 2009 and she is currently a faculty member at Mt. Hope Family Center at the University of Rochester. Her research focuses on developing and evaluating interventions for people with FASD, including the use of mobile health technology to increase access to care. She has experience in training teams of providers, both regionally and internationally, in FASD Diagnoses. Dr. Petrenko also runs a multidisciplinary FASD clinic - providing diagnostic, intervention and family support services in Rochester, NY.

Dr. Douglas Waite MD, AAP FASD Champion

FASD Hope Podcast Interview  "Critical Information on FASD"

Dr. Waite is Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai Hospital, was elected one of ten national FASD Champions by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2016, sits on the National Mental Health Advisory Board of the Child Welfare League of America, and is a member of the Society of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics. Dr. Waite has special interests in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and the effects of child abuse and neglect upon child development.

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%.


December 2021

Watch this new PSA from FARE Australia: The moment you start trying is the moment to stop drinking.

"From the moment you start trying, to the first moment you see the ultrasound and feel the early flutters of movement, right through to your baby's arrival - every moment matters in your pregnancy." (Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education)

December 13, 2021

DiG FASD (Dissecting the Genetic Contribution to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders), an ongoing clinical and genetic research study at the Indiana University School of Medicine, is seeking participants to help understand what makes each person with FASD unique and how genetics play a role in the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure.

Anyone with an FASD or prenatal alcohol exposure is eligible, including children and adults of any age. Participates can earn up to $60 for helping researchers learn more about FASD.

The study can be completed entirely from home. Participants will be asked to fill out some online forms, take pictures of their face, and provide a saliva sample for DNA. Some participants will also be invited to complete an online cognitive test. All information shared with the researchers is kept secure and confidential.

Researchers anticipate that the study will help identify the role genetics may play in the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure. This insight could establish what makes each person with FASD unique and lead to improved interventions and treatments.

You can learn more about the study and participant eligibility at DiG FASD, or you can connect directly with the study team by email or by calling (844) 378-0002. If you are interested in the study and are ready to see if you are eligible to participate and begin the enrollment process, visit DiG FASD – Eligibility and Consent.

Thank you for helping to improve our understanding of FASD and inform new treatments benefiting children and adults affected by the disabilities.


November 2021

November 19, 2021 NYT Melinda Wenner Moyer

Cannabis Use in Pregnancy May Lead to a More Anxious, Aggressive Child

A new study adds to a growing body of evidence that indicates prenatal marijuana use can impact children’s development and behavior.

“What I would tell patients is that there’s no known safe amount,” said Dr. Darine El-Chaâr,  maternal-fetal medicine physician at The Ottawa Hospital in Canada who studies the health risks of marijuana use during pregnancy and was not involved in the new study. Studies have shown that THC can pass through the mother’s bloodstream to the placenta and then to the fetus. This is the case no matter how the cannabis is consumed, whether from smoking it, eating it or being exposed to it through vapors, oils or creams. If they contain THC, “they’re all going to pass through to the baby,” Dr. El-Chaâr said.

Research suggests that a growing number of women are using cannabis during pregnancy: One study found that in 2016, nearly twice as many women in California reported using cannabis while pregnant than in 2009.

Research suggests that a growing number of women are using cannabis during pregnancy: One study found that in 2016, nearly twice as many women in California reported using cannabis while pregnant than in 2009. Yet for more than 40 years, research has been raising concerns about the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy. A longitudinal study that began in 1978 linked maternal cannabis use with children’s behavioral problems as well as deficits in language comprehension, visual perception, attention and memory. More recent research has linked cannabis use in pregnancy to low birth weight, reduced IQ, autism, delusional thoughts and attention problems, although some other studies have not identified such associations.

(Studies show that concurrent use of substances (like marijuana) and alcohol is the norm, not the exception, increasing the risk for FASD.)

November 12, 2021    "FASD in Maine"  Vivien Leigh WCSH 6

Kids exposed to prenatal alcohol not being identified early enough, experts say.

"Experts say Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, or FASD, affect five percent of all kids. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there is no safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy. Exposure can put an unborn child at risk for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, or FASD. Thousands of cases in Maine with FASD are not being identified early enough because of stigma and lack of awareness, experts say..."

'It's really an invisible disability. It's an epidemic that is hiding in plain sight, and people are suffering,' Connie Mazelsky, cofounder of FASD Maine, said. 

The nonprofit works to increase awareness and prevention of FASD through the education of families, providers, educators, and community stakeholders. It also provides resources to make services and support accessible to those individuals and families affected by FASD."


October 2021

October 8, 2021  Senator Angus King Press Release

King Cosponsors Bipartisan Bill to Address Pressing Infant Health Issue

FASD Maine welcomes his support of FASD Respect Act seeks to reduce Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senator Angus King cosponsored a bipartisan bill to address prenatal substance exposure and improve infant health. The Advancing FASD Research, Services, and Prevention Act of 2021 (FASD Respect Act), would assist early prenatal intervention by providing support to prevention efforts and for individuals and families affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) is also a co-sponsor of this legislation. According to the National Vital Statistics, around 18% of infants are potentially affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol, binge drinking, or illicit drugs each year.

“Nearly 20% of infants born in America are affected by prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol – it’s an urgent, often unrecognized, public health crisis,” said Senator King. “This legislation would significantly increase support for mothers and families at risk for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, and invest in vital, lifesaving preventive efforts. Every child deserves a chance to live a happy, healthy life; the FASD Respect Act would be a major step towards making this a reality.”

This legislation will develop a more collaborative approach across state, tribal and federal governments to support the medical, substance use, child welfare, and educational issues that the mother, infant and family face after being diagnosed with FASD or a related condition. The bill would create a National Advisory Council on FASD to combat FASD as well as reestablish the Center of Excellence on FASD and related conditions.

The complete press release can be found here.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

October 4, 2021

Boston 25 News

Pandemic-induced drinking raises concerns over harm to unborn children

Dr. Julianne Lauring, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester said,  “There are reports of women drinking very small amounts and having a baby with fetal alcohol disorders...For a long time, obstetricians have been kind of lenient, saying it’s OK to drink during pregnancy. It’s not true..."

A study by the Rand Corporation found drinking levels among women soared 41%(during the pandemic). Lauring said it’s too early to know the true impact of this trend. "These

children are just being born now, so it may be the next few years as they start to get into school.”

September 2021

September 20, 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; she helped draft the 2021 FASD Respect Act, S.2238. H.R. 4151

September 20, 2021

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.”

April 19, 2021

New York Times The Upshot 

"What’s Behind the Growth in Alcohol Consumption?"
A comparison across demographic groups over two decades offers some clues, and there has been a particular rise in misuse among women during the pandemic... In the past two decades, women died of alcoholic liver disease on average two to three years earlier than men, even though they generally had longer life expectancies. During the pandemic, they have experienced a 41 percent increase in heavy drinking episodes, a survey study showed. (The C.D.C. definition of binge drinking for women is four or more drinks over two hours.)

PBS News Hour   

"Fetal Alcohol Disorders Are More Common Than You Think"

July 2018

PBS News Hour   

"This Chicago doctor stumbled on a hidden epidemic of fetal brain damage"

May 2016