Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Knowledge and Screening Practices of University Hospital Medical Students and Residents
J Popul Ther Clin Pharmacol Vol 20(1):e18-e25; January 23, 2013
Original Research
Kate Arnold, Megan Burke, Ashley Decker, Emily Herzberg, Michael Maher, Kevin Motz, Hari Nandu, Luke O'Donnel, Altaf Pirmohamed, Michael Ybarra


Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is the leading cause of preventable intellectual disabilities in the United States and a significant public health issue.


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the knowledge and screening practices of pre-clinical medical students and clinical providers on FAS, FASD, and alcohol consumption.


A short survey sent to medical students and residents on the campus of a large medical school and university hospital.


On the survey of clinical providers, 38% of respondents stated they always survey pregnant women about their alcohol consumption, 34% stated they always screen patients planning to get pregnant, and 9% screen women of childbearing age. There were a significant percentage of providers who never screen women. When questioned regarding safe amounts of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, 69% of pre-clinical medical students and 67% of clinical providers stated there is no safe amount of alcohol consumption. Clinical providers were much more likely to correctly select the facial features necessary for the diagnosis (p-value < 0.01).


Significant differences exist in the knowledge and screening practices of these different healthcare providers and trainees. Future interventions should seek to improve knowledge on FAS, FASD, and alcohol consumption, in order for practitioners to be more consistent with national guidelines and the Surgeon General recommendations.

Key Words: Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), screening, brief alcohol interventions


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