Monthly Archives: March 2017

Looking for Adolescents with FASD for an Intervention Study in Vancouver and Edmonton!

The University of Alberta and University of British Columbia are doing an intervention study in self-regulation for adolescents with FASD in the Edmonton and Vancouver areas.

They are looking for participants aged 11 – 17 who have a diagnosis of FASD.

The intervention will take place over about 12 weeks and will include weekly 1-hour one-to-one intervention sessions focusing on improving self-regulation.


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Fathers and alcohol consumption during pregnancy


Alcohol consumption during preconception and pregnancy is generally considered to be the prospective mother’s responsibility, with many current international alcohol policy guidelines recommending the reduction or non-use of alcohol by pregnant women. However, research suggests that decisions about alcohol use can often be influenced by others, in particular the prospective father.

The National Drug Research Institute did research on the father’s involvement in alcohol exposed pregnancies. This study was initiated due to factors such as; the Australian Alcohol Guidelines, and ‘mothers guilt’. Interestingly, over the past decade the guidelines have changed the recommendations for women’s alcohol consumption during pregnancy from 2 standard drinks per day to no consumption being the safest option. The responsibility has been solely pressed on women and have not focused heavily enough on the social determinants that support the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.

The findings of the research identified that 75% of women who do drink during pregnancy are consuming alcohol together with a partner. Of these women, 40% of drinking episodes are initiated by male partners. The fact that male partners are social facilitators of alcohol consumption nearly half the time is concerning.

The key message this research is trying to convey is that decisions about alcohol use during preconception and pregnancy are not the sole responsibility of women but occur within the context of the home and the broader social environment. More complex policy is required to assist in reducing alcohol-exposed pregnancies and increasing the potential for healthy pregnancies, and fetal and infant outcomes.

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Upcoming Conferences and Events

Edmonton and area Fetal Alcohol Network Society

Mark your calendars for these upcoming FASD relevant events! Click on each picture for more information. 

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The FASD Network of Saskatchewan is hosting “Challenge the Conversation” this week. Please leave us a comment about your experiences and conversations if you’re attending this event. We’d love to hear from you!

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The 22nd Annual National Supported Employment Conference is May 30 to June, 2017. CanFASD researchers are attending this conference and we will share what we learn on the blog. We’re looking forward to learning about tangible strategies for supporting successful employment as well as advances to the Collective Impact Framework priority areas that were developed at last year’s CASE conference.

Collective Impact is defined as the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem, using a structured form of collaboration. The concept of collective impact hinges on the idea that complex social problems are…

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Do Women Really Stop Drinking When They Find Out They’re Pregnant?


Recommendations surrounding women’s health before, during, and after pregnancy haven’t always been straightforward or easy to digest. Prime example: Whether or not it’s safe to drink during pregnancy and how much? To take a closer look at what’s really going on, Katherine Hartmann, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of the Institute for Medicine and Public Health at Vanderbilt University, went searching for answers—real numbers indicating whether women, specifically newly pregnant women, were actually pouring themselves that glass of red wine.

Hartmann’s research, which was published in the April 2017 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, comes after a public firestorm arose when the CDC issued a new recommendation that all women who are planning a pregnancy or not using reliable contraception should abstain from alcohol use entirely. That’s a pretty sweeping call-to-action, considering there are 61 million American women of reproductive age, and about 43 million are considered to be “potentially at risk of becoming pregnant,” according to the study. It’s also a slightly concerning suggestion, given that past research has found conflicting results as to whether it’s actually NBD if a woman has a drink every now and again early on in her pregnancy.

So Hartmann’s team analyzed pregnant women’s alcohol consumption overall, theorizing that “whether or not it was a planned pregnancy or an unintended one, as soon as people had a positive pregnancy test, they [would] quit,” she says. That way, rather than looking at whether or not alcohol is safe in the early conception window, they would find out what habits these pregnant women had in the first place.

Hartmann and her colleagues looked at more than 5,000 female participants enrolled in the Right From the Start program, a study of early pregnancy health conducted in eight different cities around the country. When the women involved found out they were pregnant, the results showed an incredible 90 percent stopped drinking alcohol entirely, while another 8 percent made some sort of reduction of their intake.
Their findings imply that access to inexpensive pregnancy tests—with encouragement to take the test shortly after a missed period—could actually be a stronger preventative strategy to limiting alcohol exposure to the fetus. Just be smart about your contraception methods, and if you’re not looking to get pregnant anytime soon, make sure you’re still practicing safe sex. (Here’s how to find the best birth control for you.)
As for how much women can or should drink during pregnancy, that’s Hartmann’s next area of study. The infographic that lays out Hartmann’s current findings.
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International Conference on FASD: Conference Presentations

FASD2017-2Conference Presentations

Please find below the PDFs and video recordings from the conference presentations.

Pre-Conference: Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Evolutionary Origins of Stigma and the Intersectionality of FASD

Peter W. Choate

The Neuroscience of Addiction: Is it a Choice?

George F. Koob

The Science of Stigma

Patrick Corrigan

How Social Media Anonymity and the Words We Use Sustain Stigma

Kathleen T. Mitchell

Panel Presentation: Living with Stigma – the Not So Pretty

Bernadette Fuhrmann, Niall Schofield, Myles Himmelreich

Main Conference: Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Prevalence and Epidemiologic Characteristics of FASD in General Populations of the United States: Final CoFASP Results

Introduction by: Kenneth R. Warren | Plenary: Philip A. May, Christina D. Chambers

A1. 4 Oral papers

A1d – Social Communicatory Deficits, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Other Neurodevelopmental Consequences Across the Lifespan Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and FASD: Findingsfrom the UK FASD National Specialist Behaviour Management Clinic
Raja Mukherjee

A2. 4 Oral papers

A2a – Ethanol-Induced Neuroinflammation in the Developing Hippocampus: Mast Cells and Microglia
Derick Lindquist

A2b – Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor-γ Agonist Suppression of Neuroinflammation in Animal Models of FASD
Paul Drew

A2c – Methyl Donors and Anti-oxidants Reduce Congenital Heart and Other Defects Induced by Prenatal Alcohol Exposure
Michiko Watanabe

A2d – Rodent Models for Medication Development and Their Application to Treat Fetal Alcohol Exposure
Susan Barron

A3. 4 Oral Papers

A3b – Initial Steps in Establishing Reservation and Urban Community Support/Resources for AIAN Families Dealing with FASD
Annika Montag

A5. The Essential Role of Growth Deficiency in the Diagnosis of FASD
Susan Astley

A3c – Soft Neurological Signs and Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: a Population-based Study in Remote Australia
Barbara Lucas

B1. 4 Oral Papers

B1c – c The Nurse’s Role in Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention (aSBI) as an FASD Prevention Strategy
Marilyn Pierce-Bulger

B2. 4 Oral Papers

B2b – Perinatal Maternal Alcohol Consumption and Methylation of the Dopamine Receptor DRD4 in the Offspring: the Triple B Study
Elizabeth Elliott

B2c – Genetic Susceptibility to FASD
Johann Eberhart

Plenary: A Global Picture of FASD: Alcohol, Incidence and Practicality

Vladimir Poznyak, Svetlana Popova, Larry Burd

Main Conference: Friday, March 3, 2017

The Collaborative Initiative on FASD: New Findings on Screening

Edward Riley

Brain Imaging and Connectivity, an Adjunct to Screening

Jeffrey Wozniak

The Use of Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy to Differentiate Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Imparment During a Task Eliciting Emotional Frustration

Julie Kable

miRNA Biomarkers for Fetal Alcohol Exposure in Pregnant Women

Rajesh Miranda

Immune Biomarkers of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: How These Relate to Screening

Joanne Weinberg

Alterations in Genes Impacting Circadian Rhythms and Stress Axis: Possible Markers for FASD

Dipak K. Sarkar

C1. 4 Oral Papers

C1a – Choline as a Neurodevelopmental Intervention in Young Children with FASD
Jeffrey Wozniak

C1b – Prenatal Ethanol Exposure Induces Deficits in Cognitive Function in Adulthood; Improvement with Choline and Behavior Training
Sandra Mooney

C2. 4 Oral Papers

C2d – Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Individuals with Heavy Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and a FASD Diagnosis, with and without Exposure to Neglect: A Natural Experiment in Patients Seen in a National FASD Diagnostic Clinic. Initial Findings
Raja Mukherjee

C3. 4 Oral Papers

C3d – Sleep and Melatonin Secretion Abnormalities in Children and Adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
Louise Scott

D2. 4 Oral Papers

D2a – FASD in Adopted Children in Israel
Emily R Fisher

D2c – Changes in Research, Prevention and Interventions in the Area of FASD in Poland in the Recent Decades
Katarzyna Okulicz-Kozaryn

D3. 4 Oral Papers

D3a – The Prenatal Alcohol History – It Is Hard to Get and it Matters How We Define It
Susan Petryk

D4. Including Sensory Dysregulation (SD) in Every Diagnosis of FASD
Louise Scott, Liv Elliott, Lisa Wahbe

D8a. Optimizing a Clinical Language Measure for Use in Identifying Significant Neurodevelopmental Impairment in Diagnosis of FASD
John C. Thorne

D8b. Characterizing Central Auditory Processing and Sound-in-Noise Listening Deficits in Individuals with FASD
Susan McLaughlin, John C. Thorne, Adrian KC Lee

D10. University of Washington FASDPN Database Released Worldwide
Susan Astley

Main Conference: Saturday, March 4, 2017

Cutting Edge Biomarkers – Are We Getting There?

Elodie Portales-Casamar

Prevalence Rates of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure from Detection of Phosphatidylenthanol (PEth) in Dried Blood Spots

Aileen Baldwin

Serum Aminopeptidase Activity as a Potential Persistent marker of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

Paul Gard

Epigenetics of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (epiFASD) Project: Gestational Alcohol Exposure Alters Gene Regulation in Human Placenta

Nina Kaminen-Ahola

E2. 4 Oral Papers

E2a – Stress Reduction Coaching for Caregivers at the FASD Specialist Centre Leipzig
Heike Hoff-Emden

E2b – Quality of Maternal Interaction Ameliorates the Effects of Prenatal Alcohol and/or Opioid Exposures on Infant’s Emotional Regulation at 6 Months of Age
Ludmila Bakhireva

E2c – Exploring the Experiences of Birth Mothers whose Children Have Been Diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: A Qualitative Study
Raja Mukherjee

E2d – Behaviour in Children with FASD: the Lililwan Study
Elizabeth Elliott

E3. 4 Oral Papers

E3a – Potential Pitfalls and Challenges to Providing Psychological Services for Young People with FASD Within the Western Australian Juvenile Justice System
Annette Paul, Carmela Pestell

E3c – Evaluating the Effectiveness of FASD Prevention in a Remote Indigenous Community in Australia: Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy
Martyn Symons

E5 – Comparison of the FASD 4-Digit Code and Hoyme et al 2016 FASD Diagnostic Guidelines when Applied to the Records of 1,814 Individuals
Susan Astley, Julia Bledsoe, Julian Davies, John C. Thorne

E6. Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Social Behavior Function: Challenges Associated with Navigating the Social World with FASD
Katina Kully-Martens, Sabrina Agnihotri, Parker J. Holman>/em>

E8 – (Sterling Clarren Award Presentation) Northern Ontario Health Care Students’ Knowledge and Self-Efficacy Regarding Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Kelly D. Coons

Long Term Chronic Disease Outcomes Following Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

Karen Moritz

Plenary Panel: The Lay of the Land: Final Results of a Health Survey of 500+ Adults with Diagnosed FASD

Myles Himmelreich, CJ Lutke, Emily Travis

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Unhealthy outlook for women worldwide


This past week we celebrated International Women’s Day. Taking center stage in our thoughts that day was the empowerment and rights of women, as well as the noteworthy achievements of women throughout the world, past and present. With the importance of that day still in thought, I feel the urge to rebuild awareness of global health risks and concerns still facing women today. Although the severity and pervasiveness vary country to country, it is troubling for medical practitioners to know certain factors negatively influencing women’s health on a global level still exist. The good news is that many of the leading threats to women’s health are preventable — requiring only access to screenings, education and health-care services.

On a global level, while many health risks and conditions are the same for men and women — some health risks affect women more severely than men, and some primarily affect women:

• The effect of sexually transmitted diseases, STDs, and sexually transmitted infections, STIs, on women is generally more serious than on men. STDs and STIs often go untreated in women because of less obvious symptoms. Studies show this can lead to infertility in women.

• Although heart disease is the leading cause of death for women and men worldwide, women are more likely to die following a heart attack than men, in part because women more often delay seeking emergency care and more often delay treatments to control their cholesterol levels.

• Globally, more women are diagnosed annually with depression than men. Evidence suggests women are more prone to experience depression, somatic complaints and anxiety. Further, according to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, stress has been shown to reduce a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant.

• More women are at risk for developing breast cancer during their lifetime than men. Researchers have concluded less than 1 percent of all breast carcinomas occur in men.

• While stroke risk factors for men and women include a family history of stroke, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, data shows more women than men suffer from strokes each year. Some risk factors for strokes that are unique to women include taking birth control pills, being pregnant, having frequent migraine headaches and having high blood fat levels.

• While men are more likely than women to become dependent on and addicted to alcohol, studies show the health effects of alcoholism and alcohol abuse are more serious in women when signs of addiction are present. These health effects include increased heart disease risk, breast cancer risk and fetal alcohol syndrome risk.

• Arthritis, the leading cause of physical disability globally, affects more women than men.

• Women are more likely than men are to experience urinary tract problems.

Focused attempts to educate women at a local level about health risks and healthy lifestyles are proving to be a strong first step in minimizing specific factors still negatively influencing women’s health worldwide. Clinicians, researchers, and practitioners must continue to provide women ongoing health education and support, particularly in the following areas.

• Cancer — While the odds are that two out of three women will never get cancer, the following cancers remain of global concern particularly for women: breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, colon and rectal cancer, uterine cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Detecting these particular cancers early is key to keeping women alive and healthy worldwide. The vast majority of deaths from these cancers occur in low- and middle-income countries where screening, prevention and treatment are almost nonexistent.

• Maternal health — Hundreds of thousands of women still die each year around the world from hemorrhage, hypertension and associated complications in pregnancy and childbirth, which could be prevented through more educational programs, and greater access to basic services and family planning. The risks and implications associated with a sedentary lifestyle and obesity during pregnancy is a global concern, as is the need for ongoing quality care — before, during and after childbirth — to reduce maternal mortality rates worldwide.

• Reproductive health — For women between 15 and 44 years of age worldwide, sexual and reproductive health problems account for health issues more than a third of the time. Unsafe sex is a major risk factor, particularly among adolescent girls and women in countries without needed contraception services. Many suffer the consequences of unsafe abortion, and complications leading to death.

• HIV — Young women still struggle worldwide to protect themselves against sexual transmission of HIV, and to get treatments required. Further, this leaves them vulnerable to tuberculosis.

• Violence against women — Sexual and physical violence, either by a partner or someone else, effects one in three women under the age of 50 worldwide. It has been documented that older women across the globe are at a higher risk of abuse and poorer health.

Organizations like the World Health Organization and Office of Global Women’s Health are actively seeking to improve the health of women globally, particularly in our world’s poorest countries. Driven by outcomes and the belief that real solutions come by working side-by-side and through grassroot efforts at local levels, preventable risk factor in women’s health are slowly being addressed. Locally, we can strengthen our resolve to play an active role in reducing women’s health risk factors worldwide through expanded information-sharing initiatives and programs, and by making healthy lifestyle choices others can follow.

Written by: By Lizellen La Follette, IJ correspondent

 Dr. Lizellen La Follette’s a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist in private practice in Greenbrae. Her “A Woman’s Perspective” column appears every fourth week.
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Many Women Still Drink Alcohol When Trying to Get Pregnant


About half of pregnant women in the United States drink alcohol around the time they become pregnant or in early pregnancy, usually before they know they are expecting, a new study suggests.

The study involved more than 5,000 women who were surveyed by telephone when they were about six weeks pregnant, and again when they were around three months pregnant. During the second interview, the women answered questions about their alcohol use, including how much they drank, and how frequently. About 70 percent of the women said they had a planned pregnancy.

In the interviews conducted when the women were three months pregnant, a little over half of the women — 55 percent — said they had consumed alcohol within the past four months, meaning they had consumed alcohol around the time they got pregnant or at some point since then during the pregnancy. The researchers essentially used the past four months as a ballpark time period for when the women could feasibly have been pregnant, because they didn’t know exactly when the women became pregnant.

However, nearly all of the woman said they stopped drinking at around four weeks of pregnancy. This is around the time that many of these women would have taken a pregnancy test and discovered they were pregnant, the researchers said. The women who had planned pregnancies tended to stop drinking around the same time as women with unplanned pregnancies, the study found.

“Our data suggest that the majority of women, regardless of pregnancy intention, stop or decrease alcohol use around the time of a positive pregnancy test,” the researchers, from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, wrote in the April issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. [7 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health]

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised womenwho were planning to become pregnant, as well as women who were merely sexually active and not using birth control, to abstain from alcohol use. This recommendation was met with criticism from the public and health care providers, who saw the recommendations as patronizing, the researchers said.

The new findings suggest that a better alternative to advising complete abstinence from alcohol for all women who could potentially become pregnant might be to encourage prompt pregnancy testing to recognize pregnancy earlier, the researchers said. Whereas the former strategy seems unlikely to be achieved, the latter “results in relatively prompt reductions in alcohol consumption,” they said.

In the study, the researchers looked at whether the women reported a change in their drinking habits over the prior four months and when this change occurred. They found that 90 percent of the women changed their drinking habits, and of these, 90 percent stopped drinking completely, usually around 29 days of pregnancy. Just 6 percent of the women said they were currently drinking at the end of their first trimester.

Women who had planned to become pregnant were 31 percent less likely to have consumed alcohol in the past four months, compared with women who had an unplanned pregnancy.

The researchers noted that pregnant women who were white, college-educated, relatively older and had higher incomes were the most likely to consume alcohol in pregnancy, compared with other demographic groups.

These women might be overlooked as being at risk for alcohol consumption during pregnancy “because they defy clinical and cultural biases about who may be most likely to drink during pregnancy,” the researchers said. Thus, doctors should evaluate all pregnant women for risky behaviors such as drinking, they said.

Original article on Live Science.

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