FASDs: Research

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Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person who was exposed to alcohol before birth. These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning. Often, a person with an FASD has a mix of these problems.

CDC works with partners across the country to develop systems to monitor FASD exposures and outcomes, conduct epidemiologic studies and public health research to identify maternal risk factors associated with giving birth to a child with an FASD, and implement and evaluate FASD prevention and intervention programs.

Click on one of the following links to learn more about CDC’s research:

Highlighted Articles

Use of Other Substances is Common Among Pregnant Women Who Report Alcohol Use
In a 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article, CDC scientists found that about 10% of pregnant women reported current alcohol use. The use of other substances was common among pregnant women who reported alcohol use—about 40% reported current use of one or more other substances.

Consumption of Alcohol Beverages and Binge Drinking among Pregnant Women Aged 18–44 Years — United States, 2015–2017
In a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) article, CDC researchers found that about 1 in 9 pregnant women reported drinking alcohol* in the past 30 days.

Advise about Risky Alcohol Use
Most adults who drink at risky levels and were asked about their alcohol use during checkups were not advised to drink less, according to a new CDC study.

Neurobehavioral disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure
Report to help providers care for children with neurobehavioral disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure.

Alcohol use and binge drinking among women of childbearing age – United States, 2011-2013
1 in 10 pregnant women aged 18-44 years reports consuming alcohol and about 1 in 33 reports binge drinking in the past 30 days. This means that about one third of pregnant women who consume alcohol engage in binge drinking.

Prevalence and characteristics of women at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy
Many women in the United States are at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy, including those who are trying to become pregnant, because they continue drinking alcohol even after they have stopped using contraception (birth control).

Understanding and improving health messages about alcohol and pregnancy
The American Journal of Health Education published a study looking at women’s knowledge and beliefs about alcohol use and its risks during pregnancy, the role others play in influencing women’s behaviors, and women’s sources of health information to understand this issue.

Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking Among Women of Childbearing Age – United States, 2006-2010
The report, Alcohol use and binge drinking among women of childbearing age – United States, 2006–2010, describes findings from the BRFSS examining any alcohol use and binge drinking among pregnant and nonpregnant women of childbearing age (18–44 years) in the U.S. from 2006 to 2010.

Low to Moderate Alcohol Use During Pregnancy and the Risk of Specific Neurodevelopmental Effects in Five-Year-Old Children
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology published five papers from the Lifestyle During Pregnancy Study which examined three specific neurodevelopmental outcomes in five-year-old children whose mothers reported drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy.

The effects of alcohol use during pregnancy and later developmental outcomes: An analysis of previous studies
The journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research has published a meta-analysis of multiple studies examining how drinking patterns of women during pregnancy can affect the development of their children.

Alcohol use and binge drinking among pregnant people in the United States
In a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), CDC researchers found that nearly 1 in 7 pregnant people reported drinking alcohol and about 1 in 20 reported binge drinking in the past 30 days. Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause birth defects and developmental disabilities known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) and might increase the risk for miscarriage and stillbirth. Screening for alcohol use combined with brief counseling by primary care providers, integration of mental health services, improved access to care, and community-based interventions might reduce alcohol use during pregnancy and the risk for poor pregnancy and birth outcomes.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Resources for Prevention and Care
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person who was exposed to alcohol before birth. FASDs have lifelong effects, including problems with behavior and learning as well as physical problems. FASDs are preventable if a developing baby is not exposed to alcohol. CDC and its partners have resources to help prevent prenatal alcohol exposure and provide care for children with FASDs and their families.

Resources to Address Alcohol and Polysubstance Exposure During Pregnancy
Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong birth defects and developmental disabilities. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Research suggests that the use of more than one substance, also known as polysubstance use, during pregnancy is common. Increasing practices to prevent substance use during pregnancy can help improve the health of individuals and their children. CDC has resources that can help providers put these practices into place.
(Published April 5, 2021)

Online Trainings on Alcohol-Free Pregnancy
Read about the availability of free online courses for healthcare professionals on the prevention, identification, and management of FASDs.
(Published September 3, 2020)

Living with FASD: Brenna
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that last a lifetime. Brenna and her mother, Heather, share Brenna’s story.
(Published: March 30, 2020)

Teen Substance Use & Risks
Read about the risk in teens of substances use, such as alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and other drugs. Parents can help by talking to their teen’s pediatrician about screening for substance use.
(Published February 19, 2020)

FASD Awareness
Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which are physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that last a lifetime.
(Published March 20, 2019)

Advise about Risky Alcohol Use
Most adults who drink at risky levels and were asked about their alcohol use during checkups were not advised to drink less.
(Published: May 10, 2018)

Public Health Practice in Alaska
Read about how alcohol screening and brief intervention became routine practice in Alaska’s public health nursing clinics.
(Published: April 10, 2020)
[Read Article]  Vital Signs: Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancies—United States, 2011–2013
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; February 5, 2016; 65(4):91–97
Green PP, McKnight-Eily LR, Tan CH, Mejia R, Denny CH