Do Pediatricians Recognize Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Children With Developmental and Behavioral Problems?

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Abstract

Objective:

Limited studies have examined pediatricians' knowledge, attitudes, and practice about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), and none have examined alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disabilities (ARND). This study examined whether pediatricians consider FASDs in children with developmental and behavioral problems.

Methods:

All 149 pediatricians, 55 males and 94 females, in New Haven County, CT, were contacted to complete a web-based survey. They were given cases of preschool boys with (1) fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), (2) ARND, and (3) Williams Syndrome (WS) and asked to provide a diagnosis and rate their confidence in this. They could access up to 7 additional pieces of information.

Results:

Sixty-six pediatricians responded (44.3%), and 46 had complete data (30.9%). Eight (17.4%) correctly identified FAS and 29 (63.1%) ARND. Significantly fewer pediatricians diagnosed FAS versus ARND and WS (p < .001), and they were less confident in identifying FAS and ARND than WS (10.9 % and 45.7% vs 73.9%, p < .01). After viewing the photographs with sentinel dysmorphology and case description, respondents were more likely to diagnose WS (37%) versus FAS (19.6%) (p = .064), less confident in their diagnosis (p = .009), and required more information to make an FAS diagnosis (p = .002).

Conclusions:

Pediatricians underrecognize FASDs, lack confidence in making this diagnosis, and are unfamiliar with the diagnostic criteria. They need more training to consider the possibility of an FASD when seeing children with developmental and behavioral problems.

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