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Senate Bill Aims to Direct Resources to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

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A bill recently introduced in the Senate aims to direct federal resources to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), and to provide services for those living with them, and their families.

FASD is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in someone whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), these effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities. In the United States, about 130,000 pregnant women each year drink at levels shown to increase the risk of having a child with a FASD. As many as 40,000 babies are born with a FASD each year in the United States.

The Advancing FASD Research, Prevention, and Services Act calls for reauthorizing and extending FASD programs that are provided for in the Public Health Services Act, according to the Alaska Dispatch. The Senate bill would continue to authorize funds through 2017 for research, surveillance and education to prevent, and to help children and adults with the disease.

“While there is no known cure, the bill we introduced today seeks a balance between directing and coordinating federal resources to prevention activities and to services for individuals living with FASD and their families,” bill co-sponsor South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson said in a news release.

The legislation would authorize federal grants for pilot projects to determine and implement the best practices for educating children with FASD within the school system. It would also authorize funding to improve interventions and services for people with FASD who are incarcerated or otherwise involved in the justice system.

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