The leading preventable cause of birth defects and non-hereditary intellectual disability, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) affects 1-5% of school age children in the US. It is caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. This disorder is also labeled “Neurodevelopmental Disorder associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure” (ND-PAE).
Prenatal alcohol exposure leads to executive functioning issues, intellectual impairment, social communication, adaptive functioning problems and other neuropsychiatric problems. Academic challenges in ND-PAE make it difficult to attend traditional educational programs beyond high school. Associated adaptive functioning problems (life skills issues) lead to homelessness, inconsistent employment and joblessness, juvenile delinquency, and incarceration.
Fortunately, this silent epidemic is 100% preventable. Awareness for this condition needs to be raised so we can not only prevent future cases, but also generate support in terms of therapy, education, vocation, and residential housing programs.