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H R S A News U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration


Friday, October 10, 2008

HRSA Awards Nearly $1 Million to Identify and Prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

HRSA Administrator Elizabeth M. Duke announced a cooperative agreement worth $956,622 to Children’s Research Triangle in Chicago to educate pregnant women about the harm that can come to their babies if they drink and to identify and support children  with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).  

“Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are completely preventable if a woman abstains from alcohol during pregnancy,” said Duke. “These funds will help coordinate outreach and education services between the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and HRSA-funded community health centers and maternal and child health sites to prevent these births in the future.”    

FASDs are some of the nation’s most detrimental birth defects.  These are permanent conditions that cause disabilities in learning, memory, attention span, communication, vision and hearing.

Early detection, education and intervention are essential to improve the well-being of children with signs of FASDs and to help women resolve their drinking problems and abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.

FASDs are believed to occur approximately three times as often as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), one of the most serious consequences of heavy drinking during pregnancy.  FAS is a devastating birth defect characterized by craniofacial malformations, neurological and motor deficits, intrauterine growth retardation, learning disabilities, and behavioral and social deficits.

The reported rates of FAS vary widely, depending on the population studied and the surveillance methods used.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies show FAS rates ranging from 0.2 to 1.5 per 1,000 live births in different areas of the United States.


The Health Resources and Services Administration ( HRSA), part of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. Under a 70-year-old congressional mandate, HRSA's Maternal and Child Health Bureau works to safeguard the health of the nation's women, children and families. For more information about HRSA and its programs, visit

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