Canadian Diagnostic Categories


Did you know as of 2015 FASD is now a diagnostic term in Canada?

And I found out in 2018 it is also the diagnostic term used in Australia! Click here for more information. France also uses FASD.

The following is from the Asante Centre :

Whereas the 2005 guideline identified fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) as an umbrella term capturing specific diagnoses of FAS, pFAS, and ARND, under the 2015 guideline FASD is now a diagnostic term in Canada.

The new two diagnostic terms include:

  1. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder with sentinel facial findings (i.e. short palpebral fissures, smooth philtrum, and thin upper lip, as associated with prenatal alcohol exposure)
  2. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder with no sentinel facial findings

New designation for infants and young children

It has been historically difficult to diagnose infants and young children with FASD as diagnosis requires evaluation of multiple areas of brain functioning, some of which cannot be evaluated until the child reaches school age. This gap prevents some early intervention which is critical for development.

Under the new guideline, infants and young children can be diagnosed with FASD with sentinel facial findings if they display the three facial characteristics associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, as well as have a small head circumference which indicates differences in brain development.

Infants and young children who do not meet the diagnostic criteria for FASD but have confirmed prenatal alcohol exposure and early signs of developmental concerns can be designated as “At risk for neurodevelopmental disorder and FASD, associated with prenatal alcohol exposure.”

This designation is intended to encourage early intervention. However, it is not a diagnosis of FASD. A child who receives this designation should be re-assessed by a multidisciplinary team when he or she reaches school age to determine if he or she now meets the diagnostic criteria for FASD.

New brain domain called affect regulation

There is a newly added tenth brain domain in the 2015 guideline entitled affect regulation. This domain is based on emerging research that evidences individuals with prenatal alcohol exposure are predisposed to certain mental health concerns, irrelevant of other biological or environmental factors.

The affect regulation captures anxiety, depressive, and mood dysregulation disorders. While each can be caused by other factors, they may be considered relevant to prenatal alcohol exposure when seen in combination with other neurodevelopmental areas of FASD.

For more information please click on the Asante Centre link above – which is where I obtained this information.




3 thoughts on “Canadian Diagnostic Categories

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s