Day 62 of 99 Days to FASDay: Why FASD is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed

Day 62 of 99 Days to FASDay

From the article: Fetal Alcohol Exposure Often Mistaken as Behavioral Issues  – Medscape – Jan 12, 2015:

The investigators note that although children with FAS are usually correctly diagnosed on the basis of growth criteria, central nervous system impairment, and characteristic facial features, other, more common disorders related to prenatal alcohol exposure may be missed.

“Unfortunately, many children and adolescents with FASD go unrecognized and untreated; this is due to multiple factors, including unknown maternal history of alcohol use during pregnancy, lack of consistent facial dysmorphology and growth impairment across all diagnoses within the fetal alcohol spectrum, and the high rate of co-occurring mental health disorders,” the authors write.

They hypothesize that in addition to these factors, “the historically confusing language and diagnostic terminology applied to alcohol-affected children, and the perceived stigma against addressing alcohol use by pregnant women most likely contributed to the majority of affected children and adolescents in the current study having been misdiagnosed or missed completely.”

Interesting that the authors of this Study also referenced the results of the American Academy of Pediatrics members survey noted in yesterday’s Day 61 of 99 Days to FASDay .

Update 2018: I discovered an article from CTV news about a pilot Study published in 2016 that found the prevalence of autism among children prenatally exposed to alcohol was significantly higher than the prevalence in the overall Canadian population.

The study, which will be presented at the Canadian Paediatric Society’s annual conference in P.E.I. this week, examined the case reports of 300 Ontario children aged three to 16 who were exposed to alcohol in the womb.

The researchers found that 4.7 per cent (or 14) of the 300 children had been diagnosed with autism. By comparison, the prevalence of autism among the general Canadian population is 1.1 per cent.

Dr. Brenda Stade, co-author of the study and head of St. Michael’s Hospital Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Clinic, told that researchers aren’t sure what’s behind the association between prenatal alcohol exposure and autism.

“Whether alcohol is actually causing autism symptoms, we don’t know,” she said. “We can only say that there’s a correlation, but we don’t know exactly why.”

Stade noted that there may be some overlap between FASD symptoms and the symptoms associated with autism. However, she said, children diagnosed with autism in the study presented with symptoms of both disorders.

She recommends that children who are being screened for FASD should also be screened for autism to ensure they’re getting every available intervention.

“We don’t want to miss those kids who could benefit from specific interventions developed for autism,” she said.

Come back tomorrow for Day 63 on our journey to FASDay.

2 thoughts on “Day 62 of 99 Days to FASDay: Why FASD is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed

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