Focusing only on prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders oversimplifies the issue

Letters to the Editor

The front page article on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) in the April News highlighted NASW’s support and involvement in efforts to prevent this devastating developmental disability caused by in-utero exposure to alcohol.

While this is certainly important and NASW’s involvement should be applauded, focusing only on prevention efforts ignores the millions of children and adults who live with FASDs.

The often quoted assertion – “FASDs are 100 percent preventable” ‘ oversimplifies a very complex issue, that is inextricably dependent on layers of entrenched societal issues – alcohol dependence, substance abuse, mental illness, and even access to health care and poverty issues.

Standing by this 100 percent preventable fantasy and solely focusing on prevention leaves individuals and families living with FASDs without support, effective treatment, and advocacy.

In truth, FASD is a life-long disability that impairs millions of affected people physically, developmentally, and neurobehaviorally.

There is a great need for NASW and Social Workers across our country to engage in specific advocacy to help people with FASDs access the support they require and deserve.

The inclusion of Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure in the DSM-5 as a condition for further study is a step in the direction of recognizing this impactful disorder, but educating ourselves and our colleagues in other disciplines is essential.

Continuing education courses and webinars are available at and

By Sandra M. Fortier, Placitas, N.M