Why surveillance is important
Because there is no simple test to determine if a child has FAS, many children with FAS are not identified or are misidentified. Service providers, including pediatricians and other types of doctors, receive various levels of training to diagnose FAS.
FAS often gets documented as a behavioral disorder or other type of disability, such as a learning disability or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Using one consistent set of criteria for identifying and tracking FAS is critical in addressing these challenges.
From 2005-2009, Oregon’s Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Surveillance Project worked to develop and implement a statewide FAS surveillance system that utilizes one consistent set of criteria for identifying FAS. Standardized FAS surveillance allows us to:
- Assess the effect of FAS in Oregon,
- Provide data for planning FAS services,
- Improve diagnosis of FAS, and
- Create awareness of the risks of alcohol-exposed pregnancies, both in the professional and public communities.
Using the surveillance data, we are able to plan for:
- Improved FAS services,
- Better communication between providers,
- More education for providers, foster care providers, teachers and other professionals, and
- How to prevent future FAS babies and children.
The Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Surveillance Project collected, reviewed and analyzed data on children in Oregon born between 2001 and 2006 who were either diagnosed with FAS or who fit other criteria for FAS. The project combined information from birth certificates, Medicaid records, hospital birth and maternity records, and records from pediatric clinics for 768 children in Oregon who were identified as high risk for FAS. Information was requested from 60 birth hospitals and was combined with records from 168 pediatric clinics. Medical information was gathered from 2,677 records.
FAS prevalence data