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Module 6: Diagnosis and Treatment of FASD

Diagnostic Procedures for FAS

Chart showing one example of the 4-digit diagnostic code for one individual with FAS.  The magnitude of expression of each feature including growth deficiency, FAS facial features, brain dysfunction, and gestational alcohol is ranked independently on a 4-point Likert scale. The chart shows code 3444. The Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic and Prevention Network at the University of Washington has developed a 4-digit diagnostic code Exit Disclaimer Graphic 2 (pictured at right) that reflects the extent of growth deficiency, the FAS facial phenotype, central nervous system damage/dysfunction, and gestational alcohol exposure. Each is rated on a 4-point scale. The ratings for each category are combined into a 4-digit score, such as 1331.

In addition, in July 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Guidelines for Referral and Diagnosis1. This document provides a framework for FAS diagnosis and services that reflects CDC's recommendation that developmental screening be implemented to improve children's health and help them reach their full potential.

Efforts at obtaining an accurate diagnosis are important. An appropriate diagnosis helps in determining and obtaining needed services. It also helps provide a context for the symptoms. For example, behaviors can be understood in light of prenatal alcohol exposure, rather than as "bad" or "wrong."

An appropriate diagnosis helps in getting services.
African American boy sitting on exam table in doctor’s office. Doctor smiling and touching the boy’s nose

Multimedia  Video: Ann Streissguth, PhD, and Julie Gelo, a parent, discuss the importance of getting an early diagnosis.

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