Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Context Matters

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Context Matters

Article excerpt

Recently, there was a lot of hoopla in the popular press caused by the report by Philip A. May, PhD, and his team showing that the rates of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) ran between 1.1% and 5.0% in first graders in four U.S. communities (JAMA. 2018;319[5]:474-82). This publication and the press it received made my heart sing because the findings made national news--meaning the issue would be in the public's consciousness for a day or 2. That is progress.

Unfortunately, urban communities I have been serving for 50 years rarely get such press unless there is a stink. Based on the literature and my own studies, I am convinced that the problem is worse in communities of color with lower incomes. Dr. May's study population had an average yearly annual income of $53,500 a year, while the community I serve has an annual average income of $33,800 a year. My population is 96% black and non-Hispanic, and Dr. May's study population was only 12.6% black and non-Hispanic--leading me to suspect that his research was not conducted in predominantly African American neighborhoods, where research has documented a disproportionate per capita number of package liquor stores.

As psychiatrists, we should know that context is important. …

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