Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Texas A&M College of Medicine and the Omni-Net Birth Defects Prevention Program in Ukraine have identified a blood test that may help predict how severely a baby will be affected by alcohol exposure during pregnancy, according to a study published November 9 in the journal PLOS ONE.
Study authors say the findings could facilitate early intervention to improve the health of infants and children who were prenatally exposed to alcohol.
Fetal alcohol syndrome is a severe form of a spectrum of mental and physical disabilities called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) that can affect children’s development with long-lasting consequences. In the United States and Western Europe, it’s estimated that 2 to 5 percent of school-age children are affected by FASD. In some parts of the world, the number is higher.
Children and adults affected by FASD may experience a range of symptoms, from physical changes like a small head and subtle differences in facial characteristics to learning difficulties and behavioral issues.