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FAS Declines Among Alaska Natives

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A federally funded treatment and prevention program is being credited with a 32-percent decline in fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) cases among Native Americans in Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reported Feb. 19.

The $29-million program, which also included a multimedia education campaign, “did turn the corner,” said Diane Casto of the state Division of Behavioral Health. “What we know about prevention … you need to get the message out strongly, consistently, over and over again. It gave a good kick-start.”

The rate of children born with FAS among native populations declined from about 20 per 10,000 births in 1996 to 13.5 in 2002, according to state officials. Also, fewer children were born with alcohol spectrum disorders.

By contrast, the FAS rate among non-Native residents in Alaska did not drop.

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