Initiative aims to prevent fetal alcohol exposure
NASW, CDC and others form strategic cross-discipline
partnership to impede FASDs
By Paul R. Pace, News staff
Prenatal alcohol exposure is 100 percent preventable. Yet,
fetal alcohol spectrum disorders — the range of lifelong adverse effects
associated with prenatal alcohol exposure — affect up to 5 percent of children
born in the U.S.
NASW, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and
several schools and agencies are launching a strategic cross-discipline partnership
to prevent FASDs.
The goal is to promote the dissemination and implementation of
evidence-based clinical practices to impede FASDs, which remain the leading
preventable cause of birth defects and intellectual and neurodevelopmental
NASW, in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin
School of Social Work, the University of Missouri and Baylor College of
Medicine are members of the national social work discipline team led by NASW
member Sandra Gonzalez, a clinical social worker and instructor at Baylor
College of Medicine.
Gonzales said the initiative aims to build strategic,
multidisciplinary partnerships to bridge the “research to practice” gap in
“Social workers along with doctors, nurses, medical assistants
and other health professionals have to work together to implement, facilitate
and deliver routine alcohol screening and counseling to prevent FASDs,”
The new emphasis on helping clients succeed with an
interprofessional team approach is broadening the role of the health care
“Health care reform has ushered in an increased appreciation
of — and demand for — the contributions of social workers in primary and
integrated health care settings,” she explained. “As an integral part of the
medical team, social workers are well positioned to deliver evidence-based
screening and brief interventions to women who are at risk of an
“Social work is working alongside family medicine, obstetrics
and gynecology, pediatrics, medical assistants, and nursing toward the shared
key goal of implementing practice change to prevent alcohol-exposed pregnancies
and thereby reduce the incidence and lifelong impacts of FASDs,” she said.
Gonzales noted that NASW, as the largest professional
organization for social work practitioners in the U.S., is uniquely positioned
to work along with the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American
College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to
represent clinical disciplines that have a key role in FASDs prevention and
“NASW’s communication, dissemination and continuing education
opportunities and its broad reach to social work practitioners is critical to
our success,” Gonzales said.
This joint venture creates a vehicle for increasing the number
of social workers who receive training and education regarding the adoption and
sustainability of universal screening and intervention strategies to prevent
FASDs, she added.
Among the initiatives’ key objectives is the development of a
comprehensive website for health care professionals and a battery of setting-
and discipline-specific training courses.
“We will also be working with NASW and colleagues from other
disciplines to identify how new science developed in the field can inform
policy, practice guidelines, and credentialing that lead to practice change,”
More information on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and
evidence-based prevention interventions, including educational and training
materials, can be found on the CDC website at: cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/freematerials.html.
From April 2016 NASW News. © 2016 National
Association of Social Workers. All Rights Reserved. NASW News
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