Commentary: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are more common than we think

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My experience in both women’s health/prenatal care and the field of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) gives me a unique perspective on a group of disorders that are estimated to impact up to 1 in 20 school-age children in the United States.1 I have been a family nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife since 1981 and 1982, respectively, and know that the rate of unintended pregnancy in this country has not changed significantly over these decades. About half of women still get pregnant when they do not intend to do so despite advances in contraceptive options and healthcare access during this time period.

What has changed is the manner in which women consume alcohol. More women drink in a binge pattern (ie, more than 3 standard drinks/occasion), and societal and marketing messages permeate our lives. Today, it can feel wrong to not have alcohol as part of many occasions. As a result of these two factors, women today may be “living their lives” and have an increased risk of prenatal alcohol exposure.

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The opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the FASD Prevention Conversation Project, its stakeholders, or funders


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