Day 37 of 99 Days to FASDay: Early Identification is Key to Success


Day 37 of our 99-day journey to FASDay and the last of our Myths just may be the most important Fact.

There is always hope.

But what do we mean by hope? We have to provide acceptance and accommodations for differences. We have to change our perception of this false ideal of typical or normal. There is no typical or normal. We also need to let women and Society know there are ways to support individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and there are many paths to success. Some start early, before birth and when young … but adults with FASD who received a diagnosis later in life have said that receiving their diagnosis helped them understand who they were and find the supports they needed. So while we encourage early intervention, it is never too late. There will be more about success for adults later in the series.

I found a study titled Early Interventions for Children with FASD by Blair Paley, Ph.D. David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, USA (February 2011) that revealed some promising outcomes. The following summary of information from the Report:

The importance of early identification is highlighted by findings that an early diagnosis is one of the strongest predictors of more positive outcomes for these individuals.

Programs for Mothers with Substance Abuse Problems

The program New Choices provides services for mothers with substance abuse problems and their children aged 0 to 5 years, including addiction counselling, parent education and counselling, peer support and enrichment programs for children. A preliminary evaluation found that mothers demonstrated improvements in depressive symptoms and empathy for their children, and children exhibited improvements in social development.

Parent Focused Intervention

While not focusing exclusively on very young children with FASD, some studies have nonetheless included younger children in their samples. One promising approach, Families Moving Forward (FMF), provides supportive behavioural consultation to promote parental self-efficacy and reduce child behaviour problems in families raising children aged 4 to 11 years with FASD. Caregivers who participated in the FMF group reported greater improvements in parenting efficacy and greater reductions in child behaviour problems, compared to caregivers in the community standard of care group.

Adaptive Skills Training

To address the lack of safety awareness often seen in children with FASD, a computer-based intervention was designed to increase fire and street safety skills in children aged 4 to 10 years old with FASD. Children receiving the intervention demonstrated significantly greater gains in safety-related knowledge and appropriate behavioural responses in comparison to the control group.


Encouragingly, a small but growing number of studies have demonstrated with both animals and humans that early intervention can at least partially remediate some of the primary deficits associated with PAE. Such approaches are promising as they may also have the potential to mitigate some of the serious adverse outcomes often seen in individuals with FASD later in life. However, there remains much work to be done in order to identify affected children as early as possible and to develop a comprehensive continuum of services for these children and their families.

2020 Update:

There is a promising new nutritional supplement for women to take during pregnancy and for children up to age 3. More on that on a later day in our journey.

Over the next week, we will continue looking at some more encouraging studies, interventions and outcomes.