Neurodevelopmental Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure in DSM-5: Implications for Intervention & Services in Forensic Practice

“Changing lives one light bulb moment at a time” (Rachel Parrott)

ND-PAE conference

With recent media hype about “moderate” alcohol being okay during pregnancy, Dr. Susan Rich and some of her colleagues are speaking at a 2 day conference on Neurodevelopmental Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure in DSM-5 today and tomorrow.

Tom Donaldson, President of NOFAS, and Kathy Mitchell, Vice President of NOFAS will be speakers at the event. Another of the speakers at the conference will be William Edwards, Deputy Public Defender in Los Angeles, CA – a national advocate for raising awareness about this preventable issue. Recently, his efforts led to the American Bar Association passing a resolution to promote education for court professionals, attorneys, judges, and others on the issue of FASD in order to better identify and create systems of change for individuals stuck in the revolving door of the criminal justice system.  Mr. Edwards is coming to speak at the conference on his work in the area of capital habeas cases, disability services for clients, and interviewing the biological mother about her drinking history.

This event is sponsored through the Office of the Public Defender in the District of Columbia as well as the OPD in Maryland. The conference is co-sponsored by the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

For further interest feel free to take a look at the attached flyer

February 19th and February 20th, 2014 FASD Training conference schedule

In the spirit of prevention

Introduction to the Better Safe Than Sorry Project


As a board certified psychiatrist, I have recently seen a 10th person with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) awaiting a possible death sentence and work with a forensic psychologist who has evaluated approximately 60 of these individuals over the past several years. I’ve decided to use my 28 years of education and 20 years since learning about the leading preventable cause of intellectual disability in our country to create a revolution. If you would like to join my “cause,” please follow our blog. Please feel free to post it on your FaceBook page, to send it to friends and colleagues, and share it with school teachers, clergy and others you may know.

Alcohol and Unprotected Sex Don’t Mix – This Is Why

With recent articles in the media about the lack of risk associated with moderate to heavy alcohol use in pregnancy, we need to spread the CDC message that “Alcohol and unprotected sex don’t mix!”  According to the 2005 Surgeon General’s updated advisory on alcohol, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should avoid alcohol, and childbearing age women using alcohol should avoid pregnancy.

“Based on the current, best science available we now know the following:

  • Alcohol consumed during pregnancy increases the risk of alcohol related birth defects, including growth deficiencies, facial abnormalities, central nervous system impairment, behavioral disorders, and impaired intellectual development.
  • No amount of alcohol consumption can be considered safe during pregnancy.
  • Alcohol can damage a fetus at any stage of pregnancy. Damage can occur in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, even before a woman knows that she is pregnant.
  • The cognitive deficits and behavioral problems resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure are lifelong.
  • Alcohol-related birth defects are completely preventable.

For these reasons:

  1. A pregnant woman should not drink alcohol during pregnancy.
  2. A pregnant woman who has already consumed alcohol during her pregnancy should stop in order to minimize further risk.
  3. A woman who is considering becoming pregnant should abstain from alcohol.
  4. Recognizing that nearly half of all births in the United States are unplanned, women of child-bearing age should consult their physician and take steps to reduce the possibility of prenatal alcohol exposure.
  5. Health professionals should inquire routinely about alcohol consumption by women of childbearing age, inform them of the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and advise them not to drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy.”

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