South Dakota professor helps NIH with fetal alcohol guidelines

Doctors should be able to diagnose four subtypes of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders as separate categories.
Doctors should be able to diagnose four subtypes of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders as separate categories. | File photo
Eugene Horme, a physician and pediatrics professor at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, recently led a team in creating proposed updated clinical guidelines for the National Institute of Health's (NIH) fetal alcohol guidelines.

The NIH and its National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recently created new guidelines to help doctors diagnose fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

“We’re hopeful that the improved specificity of these guidelines will help clinicians to assess FASD better, thereby leading to early intervention for affected children,” Hoyme, who was also the first author on the 2005 guidelines also published in Pediatrics, said.

The new guidelines are established on analyses of 10,000 people who participated in prenatal alcohol exposure studies. The revisions include physical and facial deformities, behavioral and cognitive impairments, and new definitions.

The goal of the new guidelines is to expand and clarify the current guidelines that were published 11 years ago. With this new resource, doctors should be able to diagnose four subtypes of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders as separate categories.

The general fetal alcohol spectrum disorder category includes a variety of disabilities that can develop because of prenatal alcohol exposure, causing restricted growth, lower IQs, facial deformities, and small head size. There are also typically poor impulse control, attention deficit, and imbalanced behaviors and moods among children with prenatal alcohol exposure.

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