The 2014 Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group (FASDSG) meeting focused on the dual themes of the risks associated with low to moderate alcohol exposure during pregnancy and knowledge translation practices to enhance the impact of scientific research. The meeting theme was titled "Low drinking versus no drinking: Matching science with policy and public perception." Despite decades of basic science and clinical evidence that has documented the risks associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, there still exists confusion and uncertainty on the part of health professionals and the public regarding the question of whether or not there is a "safe" level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The first keynote presentation reviewed the data obtained from large-scale epidemiological studies that have attempted to address the question of relative risk associated with low to moderate alcohol exposure during pregnancy. This presentation was followed by an expert panel discussion of the state of scientific evidence obtained from clinical and basic science investigations concerning this question, and strategies for moving research evidence into policy and practice. The second keynote presentation presented a framework for knowledge translation and mobilization to move research discoveries toward implementation. The conference also featured updates by government agencies, FASt data talks that highlighted new and innovative findings in FASD research, and award presentations, including a lifetime achievement award presented to Dr. Kenneth Warren to acknowledge his longstanding support for FASD research. A highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the 2014 Henry Rosett award to Dr. Philip May in recognition of his substantial contributions to epidemiological studies on FASD.
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Dr. May recounted his career directing epidemiological studies in FASD, which he described as “Shoe-Leather Epidemiology” because it entailed getting out into the field and immersing clinical, epidemiological, and basic science researchers in active case ascertainment studies. The first epidemiological study that Dr. May was involved in began in 1979 with a prevalence study of FAS/FAE among American Indians of the Southwestern US. It was funded by the Indian Health Service. Dr. May's group found highly variable rates of FAS/FAE among different Indian tribes ( May, Hymbaugh, Aase, & Samet, 1983 ), with very high rates found in Southwest Plains tribes, which also had the highest rates of binge drinking. These studies convinced Dr. May that FAS/FAE were indeed real conditions with higher prevalence than previously recognized. The FAS Epidemiology Research (FASER) group was established in 1992 with funding from the Centers for Disease Control to conduct FASD prevalence studies in New Mexico. Since 1994, FASER has been continuously funded by NIAAA. Dr. May acknowledged the large number of individuals who have been part of the multi-disciplinary FASER teams, including pediatric dysmorphologists, educational diagnosticians and psychologists, maternal interviewers, field administrators and field workers, data and statistical specialists, epidemiologists, and other public health researchers who have worked together in various parts of the United States, Italy, and South Africa since 1997.
Funding for this conference was made possible in part by funds from NIAAA and NICHD ( R13 AA015661 ). The views expressed in written conference materials or publications, and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reﬂect the ofﬁcial policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
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- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- Knowledge mobilization
- Prenatal alcohol exposure
- Rosett Award