September 9 is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day. In preparation for this day, we’d like to share with you this blog originally published on the M Health Blog from the University of Minnesota Health Adoption Medicine Clinic.
Most children thrive in their adoptive families. But others experience problems with learning, behavior, attention or attachment.
A child facing these challenges may need further assessment as he or she grows. Often, known or unknown exposures to drugs or alcohol before birth may be causing or contributing to a child’s difficulties.
That is why some families may need to consider a fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) evaluation, which includes a thorough medical, developmental and neuropsychological assessment.
We asked Adoption Medicine Physician Judith Eckerle, MD, director of the University of Minnesota Health Adoption Medicine Clinic, for four reasons why some parents should consider an FASD evaluation. The Adoption Medicine Clinic is a designated specialized assessment clinic as part of a national multi-site study with the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (CIFASD).
My child is adopted or was in foster care. I don’t know my child’s background and I just want to have a comprehensive evaluation.
Children from the adoption and foster care system sometimes come from backgrounds of early or prenatal trauma, poor prenatal care and/or multiple home transitions. Our staff at the Adoption Medicine Clinic work as partners or consultants with your primary care provider to advise on any additional medical, developmental, learning or psychological needs your child may have.
I don’t know my child’s background but I suspect that prenatal alcohol exposure may be interfering with my child’s potential.
There is no known “safe” level of alcohol exposure. Prenatal exposure may have the potential to cause issues later in life, though we are typically more concerned about histories of heavy or binge alcohol or drug use. Screenings conducted by an experienced care team can shed light on any factors complicating your child’s learning, attachment or mental and physical well-being.
There is documented prenatal drug and/or alcohol exposure in my child’s history and I want to have an evaluation done early to understand my child’s needs.
Studies are clear: The earlier a child is diagnosed with FASD, the better. Home, medical and school services equipped with greater understanding of a child’s needs can help prevent secondary disabilities or complications later in life.
There is prenatal drug and/or alcohol exposure in my child’s history and he/she is having difficulties with learning, behavior and/or attention.
While all children, regardless of FASD, can have learning or attention problems, children with prenatal drug or alcohol exposures can be more severely affected. They can have difficulty sitting still or paying attention, or they may struggle with aggressive or impulsive behavior, severe anxiety and inability to understand consequences of their actions. The earlier medical providers are able to fully evaluate the child, the better the potential for interventions to help them reach their full potential.
About the Author: Blogs for M Health are created by staff and volunteers of the Adoption Medicine Clinic at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.Visit the MOFAS site to learn more about FASDs