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1.  Development of a reliable questionnaire to assist in the diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:33.
Background
A battery of clinical assessments was used in the Lililwan* Project, Australia’s first population-based Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) prevalence study, conducted in the remote Fitzroy Valley, Western Australia. One objective was to develop and assess test-retest reliability of an acceptable questionnaire for collecting health information in remote Aboriginal communities feasible for use in the Lililwan Project.
Methods
A questionnaire was developed by paediatricians to assist in diagnosis of FASD. Content was based on a literature review of FASD diagnostic criteria, existing questionnaires and risk factors for FASD and birth defects. Aboriginal community members, including qualified Aboriginal language interpreters, adapted the questionnaire to ensure language and cultural components were appropriate for use in the Fitzroy Valley. Locally developed pictorial aids were used for gathering accurate information on alcohol use. Aboriginal ‘community navigators’ assisted researchers to translate the questions into Kimberley Kriol or local Aboriginal languages depending on participant preference.
A subset of 14 questions was assessed for test-retest reliability in 30 parents/carers of children in the Lililwan Project cohort, who were interviewed by one rater using the entire questionnaire, then by a second rater who repeated 14 critical questions at least 6 hours later.
Results
The full questionnaire contained 112 items and took 50 minutes to administer. For a subset of 14 items from the full questionnaire percent exact agreement between raters ranged from 59-100%, and was below 70% for only 1 question. Test-retest reliability was excellent (Kappa 0.81-1.00) for 5 items, substantial (Kappa 0.61-0.80) for 5 items, and moderate, fair or slight (Kappa ≤0.60) for the remaining 4 items tested. Test-retest reliability for questions relating to alcohol use in pregnancy was excellent. When questions had moderate, fair or slight agreement, information was obtained from alternate sources e.g. medical records. Qualitative feedback from parents/carers confirmed acceptability of the questionnaire.
Conclusions
This questionnaire had acceptable test-retest reliability and could be used to collect demographic, socio-cultural and biomedical information relevant to the diagnosis of FASD in Aboriginal communities throughout Australia and elsewhere. Community input is crucial when developing and administering questionnaires for use in cross-cultural contexts.
*Lililwan is a Kimberley Kriol word meaning ‘all the little ones’. Kimberley Kriol is the main language spoken by Aboriginal people in the Fitzroy Valley.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-33
PMCID: PMC3680181  PMID: 23496974
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS); Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD); Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; Indigenous; Questionnaire development; Diagnosis; Reliability testing; Reproducibility of results; Test-retest; Percent exact agreement
2.  The Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency-Short Form is reliable in children living in remote Australian Aboriginal communities 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:135.
Background
The Lililwan Project is the first population-based study to determine Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) prevalence in Australia and was conducted in the remote Fitzroy Valley in North Western Australia. The diagnostic process for FASD requires accurate assessment of gross and fine motor functioning using standardised cut-offs for impairment. The Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, Second Edition (BOT-2) is a norm-referenced assessment of motor function used worldwide and in FASD clinics in North America. It is available in a Complete Form with 53 items or a Short Form with 14 items. Its reliability in measuring motor performance in children exposed to alcohol in utero or living in remote Australian Aboriginal communities is unknown.
Methods
A prospective inter-rater and test-retest reliability study was conducted using the BOT-2 Short Form. A convenience sample of children (n = 30) aged 7 to 9 years participating in the Lililwan Project cohort (n = 108) study, completed the reliability study. Over 50% of mothers of Lililwan Project children drank alcohol during pregnancy. Two raters simultaneously scoring each child determined inter-rater reliability. Test-retest reliability was determined by assessing each child on a second occasion using predominantly the same rater. Reliability was analysed by calculating Intra-Class correlation Coefficients, ICC(2,1), Percentage Exact Agreement (PEA) and Percentage Close Agreement (PCA) and measures of Minimal Detectable Change (MDC) were calculated.
Results
Thirty Aboriginal children (18 male, 12 female: mean age 8.8 years) were assessed at eight remote Fitzroy Valley communities. The inter-rater reliability for the BOT-2 Short Form score sheet outcomes ranged from 0.88 (95%CI, 0.77 – 0.94) to 0.92 (95%CI, 0.84 – 0.96) indicating excellent reliability. The test-retest reliability (median interval between tests being 45.5 days) for the BOT-2 Short Form score sheet outcomes ranged from 0.62 (95%CI, 0.34 – 0.80) to 0.73 (95%CI, 0.50 – 0.86) indicating fair to good reliability. The raw score MDC was 6.12.
Conclusion
The BOT-2 Short Form has acceptable reliability for use in remote Australian Aboriginal communities and will be useful in determining motor deficits in children exposed to alcohol prenatally. This is the first known study evaluating the reliability of the BOT-2 Short Form, either in the context of assessment for FASD or in Aboriginal children.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-135
PMCID: PMC3844452  PMID: 24010634
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS); Alcohol related neurodevelopmental disorder; Australian Aborigine; Maternal use of alcohol; School-aged children; Reproducibility of results; Culture; Motor skills; Child development
3.  A modified Delphi study of screening for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Australia 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:13.
Background
There is little reliable information on the prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in Australia and no coordinated national approach to facilitate case detection. The aim of this study was to identify health professionals’ perceptions about screening for FASD in Australia.
Method
A modified Delphi process was used to assess perceptions of the need for, and the process of, screening for FASD in Australia. We recruited a panel of 130 Australian health professionals with experience or expertise in FASD screening or diagnosis. A systematic review of the literature was used to develop Likert statements on screening coverage, components and assessment methods which were administered using an online survey over two survey rounds.
Results
Of the panel members surveyed, 95 (73%) responded to the questions on screening in the first survey round and, of these, 81 (85%) responded to the second round. Following two rounds there was consensus agreement on the need for targeted screening at birth (76%) and in childhood (84%). Participants did not reach consensus agreement on the need for universal screening at birth (55%) or in childhood (40%). Support for targeted screening was linked to perceived constraints on service provision and the need to examine the performance, costs and benefits of screening.
For targeted screening of high risk groups, we found highest agreement for siblings of known cases of FASD (96%) and children of mothers attending alcohol treatment services (93%). Participants agreed that screening for FASD primarily requires assessment of prenatal alcohol exposure at birth (86%) and in childhood (88%), and that a checklist is needed to identify the components of screening and criteria for referral at birth (84%) and in childhood (90%).
Conclusions
There is an agreed need for targeted but not universal screening for FASD in Australia, and sufficient consensus among health professionals to warrant development and evaluation of standardised methods for targeted screening and referral in the Australian context. Participants emphasised the need for locally-appropriate, evidence-based approaches to facilitate case detection, and the importance of ensuring that screening and referral programs are supported by adequate diagnostic and management capacity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-13
PMCID: PMC3583688  PMID: 23347677
4.  Health-related quality of life of Canadian children and youth prenatally exposed to alcohol 
Background
In Canada, the incidence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) has been estimated to be 1 in 100 live births. Caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol, FASD is the leading cause of neuro-developmental disabilities among Canadian children, and youth. Objective: To measure the health-related quality of life (HRQL) of Canadian children and youth diagnosed with FASD.
Methods
A prospective cross-sectional study design was used. One-hundred and twenty-six (126) children and youth diagnosed with FASD, aged 8 to 21 years, living in urban and rural communities throughout Canada participated in the study. Participants completed the Health Utilities Index Mark 3 (HUI3). HUI3 measures eight health attributes: vision, hearing, speech, ambulation, dexterity, emotion, cognition, and pain. Utilities were used to measure a single cardinal value between 0 and 1.0 (0 = all-worst health state; 1 = perfect health) to reflect the global HRQL for that child. Mean HRQL scores and range of scores of children and youth with FASD were calculated. A one-sample t-test was used to compare mean HRQL scores of children and youth with FASD to those from the Canadian population.
Results
Mean HRQL score of children and youth with FASD was 0.47 (95% CI: 0.42 to 0.52) as compared to a mean score of 0.93 (95% CI: 0.92 to 0.94) in those from the general Canadian population (p < 0.001). Children demonstrated moderate to severe dysfunction on the single-attributes of cognition and emotion.
Conclusion
Children and youth with FASD have significantly lower HRQL than children and youth from the general Canadian population. This finding has significant implications for practice, policy development, and research.
doi:10.1186/1477-7525-4-81
PMCID: PMC1617087  PMID: 17040571
5.  Recommendations from a consensus development workshop on the diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Australia 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:156.
Background
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are underdiagnosed in Australia, and health professionals have endorsed the need for national guidelines for diagnosis. The aim of this study was to develop consensus recommendations for the diagnosis of FASD in Australia.
Methods
A panel of 13 health professionals, researchers, and consumer and community representatives with relevant expertise attended a 2-day consensus development workshop to review evidence on the screening and diagnosis of FASD obtained from a systematic literature review, a national survey of health professionals and community group discussions. The nominal group technique and facilitated discussion were used to review the evidence on screening and diagnosis, and to develop consensus recommendations for the diagnosis of FASD in Australia.
Results
The use of population-based screening for FASD was not recommended. However, there was consensus support for the development of standard criteria for referral for specialist diagnostic assessment. Participants developed consensus recommendations for diagnostic categories, criteria and assessment methods, based on the adaption of elements from both the University of Washington 4-Digit Diagnostic Code and the Canadian guidelines for FASD diagnosis. Panel members also recommended the development of resources to: facilitate consistency in referral and diagnostic practices, including comprehensive clinical guidelines and assessment instruments; and to support individuals undergoing assessment and their parents or carers.
Conclusions
These consensus recommendations provide a foundation for the development of guidelines and other resources to promote consistency in the diagnosis of FASD in Australia. Guidelines for diagnosis will require review and evaluation in the Australian context prior to national implementation as well as periodic review to incorporate new knowledge.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-156
PMCID: PMC3849849  PMID: 24083778
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; Diagnosis; Consensus
6.  Invited commentary on Australian fetal alcohol spectrum disorder diagnostic guidelines 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14:85.
The publication of Australian fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) diagnostic guidelines marks an important step forward in Australia’s efforts to prevent FASD. But do we need yet another set of FASD guidelines? At the 5th International FASD Conference, the ever growing number of FASD diagnostic guidelines was identified as a core area of concern by leaders in FASD worldwide. All agreed we need to strive to adopt a single set of guidelines. It is essential that FASD diagnosis advance to incorporate new knowledge and technology. But to date, the field of FASD has seen multiple sets of guidelines published that do not address the important question-How is the performance of these new guidelines superior to the performance of existing guidelines to warrant/justify their introduction into the medical literature?
The Australian guidelines include FAS, PFAS and Neurodevelopmental Disorder-Alcohol Exposed (ND-AE). This latter group includes individuals with severe CNS abnormalities without the physical features of FAS. This is the group the 4-Digit-Code calls Static-Encephalopathy-Alcohol-Exposed (SE-AE). The criteria for FAS, PFAS, and ND-AE (or what the 4-Digit-Code calls SE-AE) are identical between the Australian and 4-Digit-Code guidelines with the exception of one very small, but very consequential difference in facial criteria for PFAS. The 4-Digit-Code requires a Rank 3 FAS facial phenotype for PFAS (J Popul Ther Clin Pharmacol20(3):e416–e467, 2013); the Australian guidelines relax the criteria to include the Rank 2 FAS facial phenotype. This relaxation of the criteria renders the facial phenotype NOT specific to prenatal alcohol exposure as confirmed in published empirical studies. If the facial phenotype is not specific to (caused only by) prenatal alcohol exposure one can no longer validly call the outcome PFAS. When one makes a diagnosis of FAS (full or partial), one is stating explicitly that the individual has a syndrome caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. One is also stating explicitly that the biological mother drank alcohol during pregnancy and, as a result, harmed her child. These are bold conclusions to draw and are not without medical, ethical, and even legal consequences. So the question remains-Why go against the published empirical evidence and relax the PFAS facial criteria into the normal range?
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-85
PMCID: PMC3994222  PMID: 24685275
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; FASD 4-digit diagnostic code
7.  APPROACHING THE PREVALENCE OF THE FULL SPECTRUM OF FETAL ALCOHOL SPECTRUM DISORDERS IN A SOUTH AFRICAN POPULATION-BASED STUDY 
BACKGROUND
The prevalence and characteristics of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) were determined in this fourth study of first grade children in a South African community.
METHODS
Active case ascertainment methods were employed among 747 first grade pupils. The detailed characteristics of children within the continuum of FASD are contrasted with randomly-selected, normal controls on: 1. physical growth and dysmorphology; 2. cognitive/behavioral characteristics; and 3. maternal risk factors.
RESULTS
The rates of specific diagnoses within the FASD spectrum continue to be among the highest reported in any community in the world. The prevalence (per 1,000) is: FAS - 59.3 to 91.0; PFAS – 45.3 to 69.6; and ARND – 30.5 to 46.8. The overall rate of FASD is therefore 136.1 to 208.8 per 1,000 (or 13.6 to 20.9%). Clinical profiles of the physical and cognitive/behavioral traits of children with a specific FASD diagnosis and controls are provided for understanding the full spectrum of FASD in a community. The spectral effect is evident in the characteristics of the diagnostic groups and summarized by the total (mean) dysmorphology scores of the children: FAS = 18.9; PFAS = 14.3; ARND = 12.2; normal controls, alcohol exposed = 8.2; and unexposed = 7.1. Documented drinking during pregnancy is significantly correlated with verbal (r = -.253) and non-verbal ability (r = -.265), negative behaviors (r = .203) and total dysmorphology score (r = .431). Other measures of drinking during pregnancy are significantly associated with FASD, including binge drinking as low as three drinks per episode on two days of the week.
CONCLUSIONS
High rates of specific diagnoses within FASD were well documented in this new cohort of children. FASD persists in this community. The data reflect an increased ability to provide accurate and discriminating diagnoses throughout the continuum of FASD.
doi:10.1111/acer.12033
PMCID: PMC3610844  PMID: 23241076
fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; epidemiology; prevalence; diagnosis; South Africa; alcohol abuse; cognition; maternal drinking
8.  Involving consumers and the community in the development of a diagnostic instrument for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Australia 
Background
Australia’s commitment to consumer and community participation in health and medical research has grown over the past decade. Participatory research models of engagement are the most empowering for consumers.
Methods
As part of a project to develop a diagnostic instrument for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in Australia (FASD Project), the Australian FASD Collaboration (Collaboration), including a consumer advocate and two consumer representatives, was established. On completion of the FASD Project an on-line survey of Collaboration members was conducted to assess their views on consumer involvement. Women in the community were also invited to participate in Community Conversations to discuss real life situations regarding communications with health professionals about alcohol and pregnancy. Community Conversation feedback was analysed qualitatively and attendees were surveyed about their views of the Community Conversation process.
Results
The on-line survey was completed by 12 members of the Collaboration (71%). Consumer and community participation was considered important and essential, worked well, and was integral to the success of the project. The 32 women attending the Community Conversations generated 500 statements that made reference to prevention, how information and messages are delivered, and appropriate support for women. Nearly all the attendees at the Community Conversations (93%) believed that they had an opportunity to put forward their ideas and 96% viewed the Community Conversations as a positive experience.
Conclusions
The successful involvement of consumers and the community in the FASD Project can be attributed to active consumer and community participation, which included continued involvement throughout the project, funding of participation activities, and an understanding of the various contributions by the Collaboration members.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-11-26
PMCID: PMC3733745  PMID: 23898969
Consumer participation; Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; Research
9.  ‘Doing the hard yards’: carer and provider focus group perspectives of accessing Aboriginal childhood disability services 
Background
Despite a high prevalence of disability, Aboriginal Australians access disability services in Australia less than non-Aboriginal Australians with a disability. The needs of Aboriginal children with disability are particularly poorly understood. They can endure long delays in treatment which can impact adversely on development. This study sought to ascertain the factors involved in accessing services and support for Aboriginal children with a disability.
Methods
Using the focus group method, two community forums, one for health and service providers and one for carers of Aboriginal children with a disability, were held at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) in the Sydney, metropolitan area of New South Wales, Australia. Framework analysis was applied to qualitative data to elucidate key issues relevant to the dimensions of access framework. Independent coding consistency checks were performed and consensus of analysis verified by the entire research team, several of whom represented the local Aboriginal community.
Results
Seventeen health and social service providers representing local area government and non-government-funded health and social service organisations and five carers participated in two separate forums between September and October 2011. Lack of awareness of services and inadequate availability were prominent concerns in both groups despite geographic proximity to a major metropolitan area with significant health infrastructure. Carers noted racism, insufficient or non-existent services, and the need for an enhanced role of ACCHSs and AHWs in disability support services. Providers highlighted logistical barriers and cultural and historical issues that impacted on the effectiveness of mainstream services for Aboriginal people.
Conclusions
Despite dedicated disability services in an urban community, geographic proximity does not mitigate lack of awareness and availability of support. This paper has enumerated a number of considerations to address provision of disability services in an urban Australian Aboriginal community including building expertise and specialist capacity within Aboriginal Health Worker positions and services.
Increasing awareness of services, facilitating linkages and referrals, eliminating complexities to accessing support, and working with families and Aboriginal community organisations within a framework of resilience and empowerment to ensure a relevant and acceptable model are necessary steps to improving support and care for Aboriginal children with a disability.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-326
PMCID: PMC3765087  PMID: 23958272
Childhood disability; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; Early intervention; Focus groups
10.  A Practical Clinical Approach to Diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Clarification of the 1996 Institute of Medicine Criteria 
Pediatrics  2005;115(1):39-47.
Background. The adverse effects of alcohol on the developing human represent a spectrum of structural anomalies and behavioral and neurocognitive disabilities, most accurately termed fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). The first descriptions in the modern medical literature of a distinctly recognizable pattern of malformations associated with maternal alcohol abuse were reported in 1968 and 1973. Since that time, substantial progress has been made in developing specific criteria for defining and diagnosing this condition. Two sets of diagnostic criteria are now used most widely for evaluation of children with potential diagnoses in the FASD continuum, ie, the 1996 Institute of Medicine (IOM) criteria and the Washington criteria. Although both approaches have improved the clinical delineation of FASD, both suffer from significant drawbacks in their practical application in pediatric practice.
Objective. The purpose of this report is to present specific clarifications of the 1996 IOM criteria for the diagnosis of FASD, to facilitate their practical application in clinical pediatric practice.
Methods. A large cohort of children who were prenatally exposed to alcohol were identified, through active case-ascertainment methods, in 6 Native American communities in the United States and 1 community in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The children and their families underwent standardized multidisciplinary evaluations, including a dysmorphology examination, developmental and neuropsychologic testing, and a structured maternal interview, which gathered data about prenatal drinking practices and other demographic and family information. Data for these subjects were analyzed, and revisions and clarifications of the existing IOM FASD diagnostic categories were formulated on the basis of the results.
Results. The revised IOM method defined accurately and completely the spectrum of disabilities among the children in our study. On the basis of this experience, we propose specific diagnostic criteria for fetal alcohol syndrome and partial fetal alcohol syndrome. We also define alcohol-related birth defects and alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder from a practical standpoint.
Conclusions. The 1996 IOM criteria remain the most appropriate diagnostic approach for children prenatally exposed to alcohol. The proposed revisions presented here make these criteria applicable in clinical pediatric practice. Pediatrics 2005;115:39–47; fetal alcohol syndrome, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, diagnostic criteria, mental retardation, developmental disabilities.
doi:10.1542/peds.2004-0259
PMCID: PMC1380311  PMID: 15629980
11.  Neuropsychological Characteristics of Italian Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders 
Background
Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) display many problems ranging from deficits in intelligence to behavioral difficulties. Thus, many studies have aimed to better define the neuropsychological characteristics of children with FASD. The current article describes the neuropsychological characteristics of Italian children with severe diagnosis within FASD and compares them with controls. It was expected that intellectual functioning, language comprehension, academic skills, and inattention/hyperactivity would discriminate children with FASD from randomly-selected peers without FASD.
Methods
This paper presents data from a second cohort of children examined in 2005 as part of an in-school epidemiological study of FASD in Italy. Eighty children, 23 diagnosed with a FASD, and 57 randomly-selected control children from the same 1st grade classes, participated. After screening for FASD via growth and dysmorphology, the children were administered a test of general intelligence (WISC-R) as well as tests of nonverbal reasoning (Raven Colored Progressive Matrices), language comprehension (Rustioni), academic achievement (IPDA), and problem behavior (Disruptive Behavior Disorder Rating Scale).
Results
Children diagnosed with a FASD achieved lower scores than control children on Verbal, Performance, and Full Scale IQ. Profile analysis of the WISC-R indicates overall differences between the groups. However, some intact functioning within the FASD group was found, as the Similarities and Vocabulary subtests were similar to the controls. After an alpha adjustment to .004, the Block Design, Object Assembly, and Mazes subtests were significantly different from controls. On tests of nonverbal reasoning, language comprehension, and academic achievement, the children with a FASD scored significantly lower. Moreover, teachers rated children with a severe diagnosis within FASD as showing more inattentive symptoms than controls, while hyperactive/impulsive characteristics among children with a FASD were comparable with the control children. Significant correlations between head circumference, child dysmorphology, WISC-R, and Raven CPM scores are also reported.
Conclusions
This study indicates that a sample of Italian children with a FASD, when compared to control children, display poorer functioning on measures of general intelligence, nonverbal reasoning, academic achievement, and teacher-rated problem behaviors. The findings also contribute to the formulation of a neuropsychological profile of children diagnosed with a FASD.
doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2008.00775.x
PMCID: PMC2588471  PMID: 18715277
fetal alcohol syndrome; fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; neuropsychological characteristics; Italian children
12.  Neurocognitive Profile In Children With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders 
The question of whether children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) exhibit a unique neurocognitive profile has received considerable attention over the past three decades. The identification of a syndrome-specific neurocognitive profile would aid in diagnosing prenatally exposed children with cognitive deficits who do not exhibit clinically discernable physical anomalies. The current review of the literature, therefore, focuses on the studies of higher-order cognitive skills in children with FASDs with a view towards delineating a pattern of cognitive functioning. Researchers have documented that children with FASDs show diminished intellectual functioning, with average IQ scores falling within the borderline to low average ranges. Slow information processing and disturbances of attention have been observed from infancy through adulthood in individuals with FASDs. Clinical and experimental reports on individuals with FASD have documented marked deficits in executive functioning, particularly in tasks that involve holding and manipulating information in working memory. Studies examining specific domains of cognitive functioning such as language, visual perception, memory and learning, social functioning, and number processing in individuals with FASDs have revealed performance decrements associated with increased task complexity. The above findings converge on the conclusion that children with FASDs have a generalized deficit in the processing and integration of information. We recommend the study of developmental trajectories of both elementary and higher-order functions in future research on FASD to elucidate the development of this cognitive profile.
doi:10.1002/ddrr.73
PMCID: PMC3104937  PMID: 19731385
prenatal alcohol exposure; fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; neurocognitive profile; developmental trajectories
13.  Canadian Children and Youth in Care: The Cost of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder 
Child & Youth Care Forum  2013;43:83-96.
Background
A high prevalence of prenatal alcohol exposure has been reported among children in care and thus, the risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in this population is high.
Objective
The purpose of the current study was to estimate the number of children (0–18 years) in care with FASD and to determine the associated cost by age group, gender, and province/territory in Canada in 2011.
Methods
The prevalence of children in care by province/territory was obtained from the Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal, and the number of children in care with FASD for each province/territory was estimated from available epidemiological studies. In order to calculate the total cost per province/territory, the cost per individual per day, by age group, was applied to the respective number of children in care with FASD.
Results
The estimated number of children in care with FASD ranged from 2,225 to 7,620, with an annual cost of care ranging from $57.9 to $198.3 million Canadian dollars (CND). The highest overall cost ($29.5 to $101.1 million CND) was for 11–15 year-olds.
Conclusion
The study findings can be used to demonstrate the substantial economic burden that FASD places on the child welfare system. Attention towards the needs of this population and prevention efforts to reduce FASD incidence in Canada, and other countries are urgently needed.
doi:10.1007/s10566-013-9226-x
PMCID: PMC3905182  PMID: 24489454
Fetal alcohol syndrome; Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; Children/youth in care; Child welfare; Cost; Canada
14.  Health professionals’ perceptions about the adoption of existing guidelines for the diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Australia 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:69.
Background
Despite the availability of five guidelines for the diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), there is no national endorsement for their use in diagnosis in Australia. In this study we aimed to describe health professionals’ perceptions about the adoption of existing guidelines for the diagnosis of FASD in Australia and identify implications for the development of national guidelines.
Methods
We surveyed 130 Australian and 9 international health professionals with expertise or involvement in the screening or diagnosis of FASD. An online questionnaire was used to evaluate participants’ familiarity with and use of five existing diagnostic guidelines for FASD, and to assess their perceptions about the adoption of these guidelines in Australia.
Results
Of the 139 participants surveyed, 84 Australian and 8 international health professionals (66.2%) responded to the questions on existing diagnostic guidelines. Participants most frequently reported using the University of Washington 4-Digit Diagnostic Code (27.2%) and the Canadian guidelines (18.5%) for diagnosis. These two guidelines were also most frequently recommended for adoption in Australia: 32.5% of the 40 participants who were familiar with the University of Washington 4-Digit Diagnostic Code recommended adoption of this guideline in Australia, and 30.8% of the 26 participants who were familiar with the Canadian guidelines recommended adoption of this guideline in Australia. However, for the majority of guidelines examined, most participants were unsure whether they should be adopted in Australia. The adoption of existing guidelines in Australia was perceived to be limited by: their lack of evidence base, including the appropriateness of established reference standards for the Australian population; their complexity; the need for training and support to use the guidelines; and the lack of an interdisciplinary and interagency model to support service delivery in Australia.
Conclusions
Participants indicated some support for the adoption of the University of Washington or Canadian guidelines for FASD diagnosis; however, concerns were raised about the adoption of these diagnostic guidelines in their current form. Australian diagnostic guidelines will require evaluation to establish their validity in the Australian context, and a comprehensive implementation model is needed to facilitate improved diagnostic capacity in Australia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-69
PMCID: PMC3416706  PMID: 22697051
15.  Aboriginal Families Study: a population-based study keeping community and policy goals in mind right from the start 
Background
Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are between two to five times more likely to die in childbirth than non-Aboriginal women, and two to three times more likely to have a low birthweight infant. Babies with a low birthweight are more likely to have chronic health problems in adult life. Currently, there is limited research evidence regarding effective interventions to inform new initiatives to strengthen antenatal care for Aboriginal families.
Method/Design
The Aboriginal Families Study is a cross sectional population-based study investigating the views and experiences of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women having an Aboriginal baby in the state of South Australia over a 2-year period. The primary aims are to compare the experiences and views of women attending standard models of antenatal care with those accessing care via Aboriginal Family Birthing Program services which include Aboriginal Maternal Infant Care (AMIC) Workers as members of the clinical team; to assess factors associated with early and continuing engagement with antenatal care; and to use the information to inform strengthening of services for Aboriginal families. Women living in urban, regional and remote areas of South Australia have been invited to take part in the study by completing a structured interview or, if preferred, a self-administered questionnaire, when their baby is between 4–12 months old.
Discussion
Having a baby is an important life event in all families and in all cultures. How supported women feel during pregnancy, how women and families are welcomed by services, how safe they feel coming in to hospitals to give birth, and what happens to families during a hospital stay and in the early months after the birth of a new baby are important social determinants of maternal, newborn and child health outcomes. The Aboriginal Families Study builds on consultation with Aboriginal communities across South Australia. The project has been implemented with guidance from an Aboriginal Advisory Group keeping community and policy goals in mind right from the start. The results of the study will provide a unique resource to inform quality improvement and strengthening of services for Aboriginal families.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-12-41
PMCID: PMC3689616  PMID: 23767813
Antenatal care; Health inequalities; Indigenous health; Maternal health; Participatory research; Perinatal health outcomes
16.  LANGUAGE AND LITERACY OUTCOMES FROM A PILOT INTERVENTION STUDY FOR CHILDREN WITH FASD IN SOUTH AFRICA 
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.)  2007;41(6):403-414.
This pilot study investigated the efficacy of a classroom language and literacy intervention in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The study forms part of a larger, on-going study that includes metacognitive and family support interventions in addition to language and literacy training (LLT). For the LLT study, 65 nine year old children identified as either FASD or not prenatally exposed to alcohol, were recruited. Forty children with FASD were randomly assigned to either a Language and Literacy Training (LLT) intervention group or FASD control group (FASD-C). Twenty-five non alcohol-exposed children were randomly selected as non-exposed controls (NONEXP-C). Prior to intervention and after 9 school-term months of treatment, general scholastic tests, teacher and parent questionnaires, classroom observations and specific language and literacy tests were administered to the participants. The 9 months assessment reflects the mid-point and the first assessment stage of the overall study. At initial diagnosis and prior to commencement of the interventions, participants with FASD were significantly weaker than non-exposed control children in reading, spelling, addition, subtraction, phonological awareness and other tests of early literacy. Teachers rated a range of adaptive behaviors of children with FASD as significantly worse than non-exposed controls. Mean scholastic and language and literacy scores for all groups showed improvement over baseline scores after 9 months of intervention. The mean test scores of children with FASD remained lower than those of non-exposed controls. Comparison of mean baseline to post-intervention score changes between the LLT, FASD-C and NONEXP-C groups revealed that although there were no significant gains by the LLT intervention group over control groups on the general scholastic assessment battery, significantly greater improvements occurred in the LLT intervention group compared to the FASD-C group in specific categories of language and early literacy. These categories were syllable manipulation, letter sound knowledge, written letters, word reading and non-word reading and spelling. In spite of cognitive and classroom behavioral difficulties, children with FASD from a vulnerable environment demonstrated significant cognitive improvements in specific areas targeted by classroom interventions. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a systematic classroom intervention and resultant cognitive response in children with FASD.
doi:10.1016/j.alcohol.2007.07.005
PMCID: PMC2098695  PMID: 17936509
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD); fetal alcohol syndrome; education; classroom interventions; South Africa
17.  Global functional connectivity abnormalities in children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) 
Background
Previous studies, including those employing Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), have revealed significant disturbances in the white matter of individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Both macrostructural and microstructural abnormalities have been observed across levels of FASD severity. Emerging evidence suggests that these white matter abnormalities are associated with functional deficits. This study used resting-state fMRI to evaluate the status of network functional connectivity in children with FASD compared to control subjects.
Methods
Participants included 24 children with FASD, ages 10–17, and 31 matched controls. Neurocognitive tests were administered including Wechsler Intelligence Scales, California Verbal Learning Test, and Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning. High resolution anatomical MRI data and six-minute resting-state fMRI data were collected. The resting-state fMRI data were subjected to a graph theory analysis and four global measures of cortical network connectivity were computed: characteristic path length, mean clustering coefficient, local efficiency, and global efficiency.
Results
Results revealed significantly altered network connectivity in those with FASD. The characteristic path length was 3.1% higher (p=.04, Cohen’s d=.47) and global efficiency was 1.9% lower (p=.04, d=.63) in children with FASD compared to controls, suggesting decreased network capacity that may have implications for integrative cognitive functioning. Global efficiency was significantly positively correlated with cortical thickness in frontal (r=.38, p=.005), temporal (r=.28, p=.043), and parietal (r=.36, p=.008) regions. No relationship between facial dysmorphology and functional connectivity was observed. Exploratory correlations suggested that global efficiency and characteristic path length are associated with capacity for immediate verbal memory on the CVLT (r=.41, p=.05 and r=.41, p=.01 respectively) among those with FASD.
Conclusions
Resting-state functional connectivity measures provide new insight into the integrity of brain networks in clinical populations such as FASD. Results demonstrate that children with FASD have alterations in core components of network function and that these aspects of brain integrity are related to measures of structure and cognitive functioning.
doi:10.1111/acer.12024
PMCID: PMC3610852  PMID: 23240997
Fetal alcohol (FAS, FASD); Brain; functional MRI (fMRI); resting-state; connectivity; neuropsychological
18.  Identifying barriers and improving communication between cancer service providers and Aboriginal patients and their families: the perspective of service providers 
Background
Aboriginal Australians experience poorer outcomes from cancer compared to the non-Aboriginal population. Some progress has been made in understanding Aboriginal Australians’ perspectives about cancer and their experiences with cancer services. However, little is known of cancer service providers’ (CSPs) thoughts and perceptions regarding Aboriginal patients and their experiences providing optimal cancer care to Aboriginal people. Communication between Aboriginal patients and non-Aboriginal health service providers has been identified as an impediment to good Aboriginal health outcomes. This paper reports on CSPs’ views about the factors impairing communication and offers practical strategies for promoting effective communication with Aboriginal patients in Western Australia (WA).
Methods
A qualitative study involving in-depth interviews with 62 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal CSPs from across WA was conducted between March 2006 - September 2007 and April-October 2011. CSPs were asked to share their experiences with Aboriginal patients and families experiencing cancer. Thematic analysis was carried out. Our analysis was primarily underpinned by the socio-ecological model, but concepts of Whiteness and privilege, and cultural security also guided our analysis.
Results
CSPs’ lack of knowledge about the needs of Aboriginal people with cancer and Aboriginal patients’ limited understanding of the Western medical system were identified as the two major impediments to communication. For effective patient–provider communication, attention is needed to language, communication style, knowledge and use of medical terminology and cross-cultural differences in the concept of time. Aboriginal marginalization within mainstream society and Aboriginal people’s distrust of the health system were also key issues impacting on communication. Potential solutions to effective Aboriginal patient-provider communication included recruiting more Aboriginal staff, providing appropriate cultural training for CSPs, cancer education for Aboriginal stakeholders, continuity of care, avoiding use of medical jargon, accommodating patients’ psychosocial and logistical needs, and in-service coordination.
Conclusion
Individual CSPs identified challenges in cross-cultural communication and their willingness to accommodate culture-specific needs within the wider health care system including better communication with Aboriginal patients. However, participants’ comments indicated a lack of concerted effort at the system level to address Aboriginal disadvantage in cancer outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-460
PMCID: PMC3835135  PMID: 24188503
Aboriginal; Indigenous; Cancer; Communication; Health service provider; Cancer service provider
19.  The Effectiveness of Community Action in Reducing Risky Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001617.
In a cluster randomized controlled trial, Anthony Shakeshaft and colleagues measure the effectiveness of a multi-component community-based intervention for reducing alcohol-related harm.
Background
The World Health Organization, governments, and communities agree that community action is likely to reduce risky alcohol consumption and harm. Despite this agreement, there is little rigorous evidence that community action is effective: of the six randomised trials of community action published to date, all were US-based and focused on young people (rather than the whole community), and their outcomes were limited to self-report or alcohol purchase attempts. The objective of this study was to conduct the first non-US randomised controlled trial (RCT) of community action to quantify the effectiveness of this approach in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms measured using both self-report and routinely collected data.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster RCT comprising 20 communities in Australia that had populations of 5,000–20,000, were at least 100 km from an urban centre (population ≥ 100,000), and were not involved in another community alcohol project. Communities were pair-matched, and one member of each pair was randomly allocated to the experimental group. Thirteen interventions were implemented in the experimental communities from 2005 to 2009: community engagement; general practitioner training in alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI); feedback to key stakeholders; media campaign; workplace policies/practices training; school-based intervention; general practitioner feedback on their prescribing of alcohol medications; community pharmacy-based SBI; web-based SBI; Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services support for SBI; Good Sports program for sports clubs; identifying and targeting high-risk weekends; and hospital emergency department–based SBI. Primary outcomes based on routinely collected data were alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions. Routinely collected data for the entire study period (2001–2009) were obtained in 2010. Secondary outcomes based on pre- and post-intervention surveys (n = 2,977 and 2,255, respectively) were the following: long-term risky drinking, short-term high-risk drinking, short-term risky drinking, weekly consumption, hazardous/harmful alcohol use, and experience of alcohol harm. At the 5% level of statistical significance, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the interventions were effective in the experimental, relative to control, communities for alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions, and for rates of risky alcohol consumption and hazardous/harmful alcohol use. Although respondents in the experimental communities reported statistically significantly lower average weekly consumption (1.90 fewer standard drinks per week, 95% CI = −3.37 to −0.43, p = 0.01) and less alcohol-related verbal abuse (odds ratio = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.96, p = 0.04) post-intervention, the low survey response rates (40% and 24% for the pre- and post-intervention surveys, respectively) require conservative interpretation. The main limitations of this study are as follows: (1) that the study may have been under-powered to detect differences in routinely collected data outcomes as statistically significant, and (2) the low survey response rates.
Conclusions
This RCT provides little evidence that community action significantly reduces risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms, other than potential reductions in self-reported average weekly consumption and experience of alcohol-related verbal abuse. Complementary legislative action may be required to more effectively reduce alcohol harms.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000123448
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People have consumed alcoholic beverages throughout history, but alcohol use is now an increasing global public health problem. According to the World Health Organization's 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, alcohol use is the fifth leading risk factor (after high blood pressure and smoking) for disease and is responsible for 3.9% of the global disease burden. Alcohol use contributes to heart disease, liver disease, depression, some cancers, and many other health conditions. Alcohol also affects the well-being and health of people around those who drink, through alcohol-related crimes and road traffic crashes. The impact of alcohol use on disease and injury depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and the pattern of drinking. Most guidelines define long-term risky drinking as more than four drinks per day on average for men or more than two drinks per day for women (a “drink” is, roughly speaking, a can of beer or a small glass of wine), and short-term risky drinking (also called binge drinking) as seven or more drinks on a single occasion for men or five or more drinks on a single occasion for women. However, recent changes to the Australian guidelines acknowledge that a lower level of alcohol consumption is considered risky (with lifetime risky drinking defined as more than two drinks a day and binge drinking defined as more than four drinks on one occasion).
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2010, the World Health Assembly endorsed a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. This strategy emphasizes the importance of community action–a process in which a community defines its own needs and determines the actions that are required to meet these needs. Although community action is highly acceptable to community members, few studies have looked at the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. Here, the researchers undertake a cluster randomized controlled trial (the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities [AARC] project) to quantify the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms in rural communities in Australia. A cluster randomized trial compares outcomes in clusters of people (here, communities) who receive alternative interventions assigned through the play of chance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pair-matched 20 rural Australian communities according to the proportion of their population that was Aboriginal (rates of alcohol-related harm are disproportionately higher among Aboriginal individuals than among non-Aboriginal individuals in Australia; they are also higher among young people and males, but the proportions of these two groups across communities was comparable). They randomly assigned one member of each pair to the experimental group and implemented 13 interventions in these communities by negotiating with key individuals in each community to define and implement each intervention. Examples of interventions included general practitioner training in screening for alcohol use disorders and in implementing a brief intervention, and a school-based interactive session designed to reduce alcohol harm among young people. The researchers quantified the effectiveness of the interventions using routinely collected data on alcohol-related crime and road traffic crashes, and on hospital inpatient admissions for alcohol dependence or abuse (which were expected to increase in the experimental group if the intervention was effective because of more people seeking or being referred for treatment). They also examined drinking habits and experiences of alcohol-related harm, such as verbal abuse, among community members using pre- and post-intervention surveys. After implementation of the interventions, the rates of alcohol-related crime, road traffic crashes, and hospital admissions, and of risky and hazardous/harmful alcohol consumption (measured using a validated tool called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) were not statistically significantly different in the experimental and control communities (a difference in outcomes that is not statistically significantly different can occur by chance). However, the reported average weekly consumption of alcohol was 20% lower in the experimental communities after the intervention than in the control communities (equivalent to 1.9 fewer standard drinks per week per respondent) and there was less alcohol-related verbal abuse post-intervention in the experimental communities than in the control communities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide little evidence that community action reduced risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms in rural Australian communities. Although there was some evidence of significant reductions in self-reported weekly alcohol consumption and in experiences of alcohol-related verbal abuse, these findings must be interpreted cautiously because they are based on surveys with very low response rates. A larger or differently designed study might provide statistically significant evidence for the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption. However, given their findings, the researchers suggest that legislative approaches that are beyond the control of individual communities, such as alcohol taxation and restrictions on alcohol availability, may be required to effectively reduce alcohol harms. In other words, community action alone may not be the most effective way to reduce alcohol-related harm.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617.
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about alcohol; its fact sheet on alcohol includes information about the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health provides further information about alcohol, including information on control policies around the world
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has information about alcohol and its effects on health
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health that includes information on the health risks of excessive drinking
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including information on the risks of drinking too much, tools for calculating alcohol consumption, and personal stories about alcohol use problems
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol
More information about the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities project is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617
PMCID: PMC3949675  PMID: 24618831
20.  Neuropsychological Study of FASD in a Sample of American Indian Children: Processing Simple Versus Complex Information 
Background
While a large body of literature exists on cognitive functioning in alcohol-exposed children, it is unclear if there is a signature neuropsychological profile in children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). This study assesses cognitive functioning in children with FASD from several American Indian reservations in the Northern Plains States, and it applies a hierarchical model of simple versus complex information processing to further examine cognitive function. We hypothesized that complex tests would discriminate between children with FASD and culturally similar controls, while children with FASD would perform similar to controls on relatively simple tests.
Methods
Our sample includes 32 control children and 24 children with a form of FASD [fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) = 10, partial fetal alcohol syndrome (PFAS) = 14]. The test battery measures general cognitive ability, verbal fluency, executive functioning, memory, and fine motor skills.
Results
Many of the neuropsychological tests produced results consistent with a hierarchical model of simple versus complex processing. The complexity of the tests was determined “a priori” based on the number of cognitive processes involved in them. Multidimensional scaling was used to statistically analyze the accuracy of classifying the neurocognitive tests into a simple versus complex dichotomy. Hierarchical logistic regression models were then used to define the contribution made by complex versus simple tests in predicting the significant differences between children with FASD and controls. Complex test items discriminated better than simple test items. The tests that conformed well to the model were the Verbal Fluency, Progressive Planning Test (PPT), the Lhermitte memory tasks and the Grooved Pegboard Test (GPT). The FASD-grouped children, when compared to controls, demonstrated impaired performance on letter fluency, while their performance was similar on category fluency. On the more complex PPT trials (problems 5–8), as well as the Lhermitte logical tasks, the FASD group performed the worst.
Conclusions
The differential performance between children with FASD and controls was evident across various neuropsychological measures. The children with FASD performed significantly more poorly on the complex tasks than did the controls. The identification of a neurobehavioral profile in children with prenatal alcohol exposure will help clinicians identify and diagnose children with FASD.
doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2008.00802.x
PMCID: PMC2953860  PMID: 18828799
fetal alcohol syndrome; fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; hierarchical model; neuropsychological characteristics; information processing; American Indian
21.  Exploration of the beliefs and experiences of Aboriginal people with cancer in Western Australia: a methodology to acknowledge cultural difference and build understanding 
Background
Aboriginal Australians experience poorer outcomes, and are 2.5 times more likely to die from cancer than non-Aboriginal people, even after adjustment for stage of diagnosis, cancer treatment and comorbidities. They are also less likely to present early as a result of symptoms and to access treatment. Psycho-social factors affect Aboriginal people's willingness and ability to participate in cancer-related screening and treatment services, but little exploration of this has occurred within Australia to date. The current research adopted a phenomenological qualitative approach to understand and explore the lived experiences of Aboriginal Australians with cancer and their beliefs and understanding around this disease in Western Australia (WA). This paper details considerations in the design and process of conducting the research.
Methods/Design
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines for ethical conduct of Aboriginal research were followed. Researchers acknowledged the past negative experiences of Aboriginal people with research and were keen to build trust and relationships prior to conducting research with them. Thirty in-depth interviews with Aboriginal people affected by cancer and twenty with health service providers were carried out in urban, rural and remote areas of WA. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and coded independently by two researchers. NVivo7 software was used to assist data management and analysis. Participants' narratives were divided into broad categories to allow identification of key themes and discussed by the research team.
Discussion and conclusion
Key issues specific to Aboriginal research include the need for the research process to be relationship-based, respectful, culturally appropriate and inclusive of Aboriginal people. Researchers are accountable to both participants and the wider community for reporting their findings and for research translation so that the research outcomes benefit the Aboriginal community. There are a number of factors that influence whether the desired level of engagement can be achieved in practice. These include the level of resourcing for the project and the researchers' efforts to ensure dissemination and research translation; and the capacity of the Aboriginal community to engage with research given other demands upon their time.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-9-60
PMCID: PMC2743702  PMID: 19674484
22.  Adequacy of Maternal Iron Status Protects against Behavioral, Neuroanatomical, and Growth Deficits in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47499.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are the leading non-genetic cause of neurodevelopmental disability in children. Although alcohol is clearly teratogenic, environmental factors such as gravidity and socioeconomic status significantly modify individual FASD risk despite equivalent alcohol intake. An explanation for this variability could inform FASD prevention. Here we show that the most common nutritional deficiency of pregnancy, iron deficiency without anemia (ID), is a potent and synergistic modifier of FASD risk. Using an established rat model of third trimester-equivalent binge drinking, we show that ID significantly interacts with alcohol to impair postnatal somatic growth, associative learning, and white matter formation, as compared with either insult separately. For the associative learning and myelination deficits, the ID-alcohol interaction was synergistic and the deficits persisted even after the offsprings’ iron status had normalized. Importantly, the observed deficits in the ID-alcohol animals comprise key diagnostic criteria of FASD. Other neurobehaviors were normal, showing the ID-alcohol interaction was selective and did not reflect a generalized malnutrition. Importantly ID worsened FASD outcome even though the mothers lacked overt anemia; thus diagnostics that emphasize hematological markers will not identify pregnancies at-risk. This is the first direct demonstration that, as suggested by clinical studies, maternal iron status has a unique influence upon FASD outcome. While alcohol is unquestionably teratogenic, this ID-alcohol interaction likely represents a significant portion of FASD diagnoses because ID is more common in alcohol-abusing pregnancies than generally appreciated. Iron status may also underlie the associations between FASD and parity or socioeconomic status. We propose that increased attention to normalizing maternal iron status will substantially improve FASD outcome, even if maternal alcohol abuse continues. These findings offer novel insights into how alcohol damages the developing brain.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047499
PMCID: PMC3477151  PMID: 23094056
23.  A Guide for Health Professionals Working with Aboriginal Peoples: Executive Summary 
Objective
to provide Canadian health professionals with a network of information and recommendations regarding Aboriginal health.
Options
health professionals working with Aboriginal individuals and communities in the area of women’s health care.
Outcomes
improved health status of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.
Appropriateness and accessibility of women’s health services for Aboriginal peoples.
Improved communication and clinical skills of health professionals in the area of Aboriginal health.
Improved quality of relationship between health professionals and Aboriginal individuals and communities.
Improved quality of relationship between health care professionals and Aboriginal individuals and communities.
Evidence
recommendations are based on expert opinion and a review of the literature. Published references were identified by a Medline search of all review articles, randomized clinical control trials, meta-analyses, and practice guidelines from 1966 to February 1999, using the MeSH headings “Indians, North American or Eskimos” and “Health.”* Subsequently published articles were brought to the attention of the authors in the process of writing and reviewing the document. Ancillary and unpublished references were recommended by members of the SOGC Aboriginal Health Issues Committee and the panel of expert reviewers.
Values
information collected was reviewed by the principal author. The social, cultural, political, and historic context of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, systemic barriers regarding the publication of information by Aboriginal authors, the diversity of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, and the need for a culturally appropriate and balanced presentation were carefully considered in addition to more traditional scientific evaluation. The majority of information collected consisted of descriptive health and social information and such evaluation tools as the evidence guidelines of the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health exam were not appropriate.
Benefits, costs, and harms
utilization of the information and recommendations by Canadian health professionals will enhance understanding, communication, and clinical skills in the area of Aboriginal health. The resulting enhancement of collaborative relationships between Aboriginal peoples and their women’s health providers may contribute to health services that are more appropriate, effective, efficient, and accessible for Aboriginal peoples in Canada. The educational process may require an initial investment of time from the health professional.
Recommendations
Recommendations were grouped according to four themes: sociocultural context, health concerns, cross-cultural understanding, and Aboriginal health resources. Health professionals are encouraged to learn the appropriate names, demographics, and traditional geographic territories and language groups of the various Aboriginal groups in Canada. In addition, sensitivity to the impact of colonization and current socioeconomic challenges to the health status of Aboriginal peoples is warranted. Health services for Aboriginal peoples should take place as close to home as possible. Governmental obligations and policies regarding determination are recognized. With respect to health concerns, holistic definitions of health, based on Aboriginal perspectives, are put forward. Aboriginal peoples continue to experience a disproportionate burden of health problems. Health professionals are encouraged to become familiar with several key areas of morbidity and mortality. Relationships between Aboriginal peoples and their care providers need to be based on a foundation of mutual respect. Gaps and barriers in the current health care system for Aboriginal peoples are identified. Health professionals are encouraged to work with Aboriginal individuals and communities to address these gaps and barriers. Aboriginal peoples require culturally appropriate health care, including treatment in their own languages when possible. This may require interpreters or Aboriginal health advocates. Health professionals are encouraged to recognize the importance of family and community roles, and to respect traditional medicines and healers. Health professionals can develop their sensitivities towards Aboriginal peoples by participating in workshops, making use of educational resources, and by spending time with Aboriginal peoples in their communities. Aboriginal communities and health professionals are encouraged to support community-based, community-directed health services and health research for Aboriginal peoples. In addition, the education of more Aboriginal health professionals is essential. The need for a preventative approach to health programming in Aboriginal communities is stressed.
Validation
recommendations were reviewed and revised by the SOGC Aboriginal Health Issues Committee, a panel of expert reviewers, and the SOGC Council. In addition, this document was also reviewed and supported by the Assembly of First Nations, Canadian Institute of Child Health, Canadian Paediatric Society, College of Family Physicians of Canada, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Federation of Medical Women of Canada, Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, Metis National Council, National Indian and Inuit Community Health Representatives Organization, and Pauktuutit Inuit Women’s Association.
Sponsor
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.
PMCID: PMC3653835  PMID: 23682204 CAMSID: cams2752
24.  What Research Is Being Done on Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in the Russian Research Community? 
Aims: Although Russia has one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption and alcohol-attributable burden of disease, little is known about the existing research on prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) in this country. The objective of this study was to locate and review published and unpublished studies related to any aspect of PAE and FASD conducted in or using study populations from Russia. Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted in multiple English and Russian electronic bibliographic databases. In addition, a manual search was conducted in several major libraries in Moscow. Results: The search revealed a small pool of existing research studies related to PAE and/or FASD in Russia (126: 22 in English and 104 in Russian). Existing epidemiological data indicate a high prevalence of PAE and FASD, which underlines the strong negative impact that alcohol has on mortality, morbidity and disability in Russia. High levels of alcohol consumption by women of childbearing age, low levels of contraception use, and low levels of knowledge by health and other professionals regarding the harmful effects of PAE put this country at great risk of further alcohol-affected pregnancies. Conclusions: Alcohol preventive measures in Russia warrant immediate attention. More research focused on alcohol prevention and policy is needed in order to reduce alcohol-related harm, especially in the field of FASD.
doi:10.1093/alcalc/agt156
PMCID: PMC3865815  PMID: 24158024
25.  Distinguishing between attention-deficit hyperactivity and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in children: clinical guidelines 
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are the physical and neurodevelopmental outcomes of fetal alcohol exposure. The behavioral phenotype of children with FASD includes difficulties with executive function, memory, planning, processing speed, and attention. Although attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is diagnosed in up to 94% of individuals with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure, the exact relationship between FASD and ADHD is unclear. There is some evidence that ADHD in FASD may be a specific clinical subtype and thus may require a different treatment approach. Although traditional behavioral observation scales may not distinguish between the two groups, there is evidence that children with FASD have a different profile on the four-factor model of attention than children with ADHD who do not have FASD. There is a paucity of good scientific evidence on effective interventions for individuals with ADHD and FASD. There is weak evidence that children with FASD and ADHD may have a better response to dexamphetamine than methylphenidate. There is a strong need for larger, high quality studies to examine the relationship between ADHD and FASD and identify effective treatments because management of inattention and hyperactivity may improve learning and ameliorate the common secondary disabilities associated with FASD.
PMCID: PMC2938300  PMID: 20856914
fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

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