There is a need to educate health professionals in regard to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders across many health and allied health fields.
Conduct evaluations of educational programs designed to assess knowledge, attitudes and beliefs in relation to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) among health and allied health professionals in the northeastern United States.
FASD related educational efforts were carried out and evaluated in New Jersey for various health-related professional groups over a four-month period using a common set of materials. Pre and post-test evaluation comprised 20 questions on FASD recognition, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Groups surveyed included nurses, social workers, counselors, therapists, clinicians and allied health professionals comprising physician assistants, dieticians, physical therapists, occupational therapists.
Results showed that a majority of health care professionals in New Jersey possess basic knowledge related to FASD and the effects of alcohol on a child in utero. They also had significant awareness of the importance of early diagnosis and the importance of reducing secondary disabilities. The study did however reveal areas for improvement in some professional groups.
FASD is the most important preventable cause of mental retardation. Health professionals attending workshops typically had a good basic understanding of FASD, though with some weaknesses specific to their discipline. Educational efforts in regard to FASD should be sensitive to the various health professionals engaged in preventing, diagnosing and treating FASD.
Key Words: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol, pregnancy, in utero