MSACD Project

First, a focus on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

The Maternal Substance Abuse and Child Development Project (MSACD) began life as the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Screening project in 1981. At that time, the Georgia Legislature had the foresight to establish a program for screening pregnant women for alcohol use in order to identify the extent of the problem in Georgia as well as methods for prevention in this group. In the early 1980's, there was still considerable debate about the extent of this problem and, indeed, about the existence of FAS and other conditions resulting from prenatal exposure to substances of abuse. The FAS Screening project was among the first to work with this problem and was able to establish that alcohol effects could be seen in the newborn infant. We also found that an informational intervention with pregnant women could reduce alcohol and other drug use and improve birth outcomes. Thirty percent of the drinking women we interviewed stopped use and delivered babies who were of normal birth weight and had better developmental outcome. As part of this project, we developed the Dysmorphia Checklist, as screening tool for use in FAS clinics that reliably and validly identifies alcohol effects in children and adolescents. At the present time, we continue to work with alcohol-affected children and adults to describe the long-term effects of exposure. You can find more information about our findings on this Website at our Research section or our current studies at our Adult Assessment Project section.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention and Treatment

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is an overall term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. These disorders often co-occur with substance abuse and mental health issues, and generally require treatment modifications for successful outcomes.

The prevalence of the full spectrum of FASD in the general population is estimated at 9.1 per 1,000 live births, although some estimates suggest closer to 50 per 1,000 (or roughly 200,000 babies per year in the United States alone, based on 2010 general birth rates). Issues of stigma surrounding FASD may lead to under-reporting, disguising true prevalence. Since these disorders are 100 percent preventable, it is important to identify and use effective prevention strategies toward those at risk for consuming alcohol during pregnancy.

Learn More About FASD | FASD Resources in Your State

Enhance FASD Prevention Programs

Understand FASD Research and Policy

The mission of the SAMHSA Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Center for Excellence is to facilitate the development of culturally appropriate and effective behavioral health policies, practices, and programs to improve FASD prevention, treatment, and care systems by collaborating and coordinating with Federal, national, state, and community FASD partners.

Research Society on Alcoholism

36th Annual Scientific Meeting

June 22-26, 2013

Orlando (Grand Cypress), Florida

Register Here

A New Resource to Help Pediatricians Identify and Manage Children With
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs)

Preview Here

September 12, 2012.

At Emory University, experts try new approach to treating Fetal Alcohol Syndrome:

ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) - Health experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a recommendation last week that every child be screened for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Preview Here

RESOLUTION APPROVED BY THE ABA HOUSE OF DELEGATES – AUGUST 7, 2012. The American Bar Association unanimously passed the FASD resolution today. Preview the complete Report Here

March 30, 2012.

Alaska Senators Introduce Bill to Advance Research in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

WASHINGTON, DC—Today U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Begich (D-AK), Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI) introduced The Advancing FASD Research, Prevention, and Services Act to improve research, prevention, and services for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).  FASD is an umbrella term that describes a range of physical and mental birth defects that can occur in a fetus when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol.  Alcohol exposure during pregnancy is a leading cause of non-hereditary cognitive disability. 

“Alaska is doing well in the fight against FASD, but this is clearly an instance where just being ‘good’ isn’t good enough,” said Sen. Murkowski, lead Republican co-sponsor of the bill.  “I’m proud to co-sponsor this important, comprehensive bill, because education is a key component, but not the only component.  Whether in small town or urban America, this bill also provides a support system for state and community outreach that deals with alcoholism head-on.”

“Alaska’s fetal alcohol syndrome rate fell 32 percent between 1996-2002 in no small part from efforts like this bill,” said Sen. Begich.  “The Advancing FASD Research, Prevention, and Services Act would continue to authorize funds through 2017 for the needed research, surveillance  and education to prevent this spectrum of disorders and help children and adults afflicted with the disease live a full and healthy life. I am pleased to stand with my colleagues today to introduce this important measure to help keep families in Alaska and across the country aware of the risks of FAS.”

“This disease is entirely preventable, and yet it is estimated that nearly 8,000 South Dakotans are living with FASD,” said Sen. Johnson. “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.”

The legislation would:

·                 Require the National Institutes of Health to develop a research agenda for the diagnosis, prevention and intervention of FASD

·                 Authorizes federal grants for pilot projects to determine and implement the best practices for educating children with FASD within the school system

·                 Directs NIH to conduct support activities to integrate case definitions into clinical practice, thereby improving surveillance activities, and to provide health care workers and others with resources to reduce alcohol-exposed pregnancies

·                 Authorizes development and broadcast of national public service announcements to raise public awareness of the risks associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy

Funding would also be authorized to improve interventions and services for individuals with FASD who are incarcerated or otherwise involved in the justice system.

Federal grants would also be authorized for states, tribes, tribal organizations and other non-profit organizations to develop support services such as vocational training, housing assistance, and medication monitoring services for adults with the disease. 

People affected with these disorders face numerous medical, physical, educational, and financial challenges.  Difficulties can include severe learning disabilities, physical abnormalities, costly medical bills, and behavioral impairments. Diagnoses under the FASD umbrella include Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Alcohol-Related Birth Defects and Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder. 

Preview Here

The Interagency Coordinating Committee on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (ICCFASD) announces the release of a consensus statement, Recognizing Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) in Primary Health Care of Children. These recommendations are the result of a consensus development style conference which took place in November 2011, sponsored by the ICCFASD, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Recognizing Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) in Primary Health Care of Children

Consensus Statement

Recognizing Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) in Primary Health Care of Children



Announcing New Resources from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

A new ACOG website provides resources for women’s health care providers in identifying women who drink too much and in providing brief educational counseling to reduce or eliminate alcohol use. It also provides information for the public along with linked resources. This website is a one-stop choice, offering a cell phone app, downloadable patient information sheets, current news articles, treatment referral information, and more. The tools on this website were developed in response to the needs expressed by ACOG’s members. Some examples of tools you can find here include:

Alcohol screening and brief intervention at a glance – Pocket card (5”x8” plastic, hole-drilled to attach to a ring), contact Jeanne Mahoney via email:

Tips for working with women who drink

iPhone app for identifying and intervening with women who drink at risk levels

ACOG Committee Opinion: At risk drinking and alcohol dependence: Obstetric and gynecologic implications

Additional clinician resources

Community resources

Drug Policy for the 21stCentury (PDF) or Preview Here

President Obama Signs Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 (PDF)

Check out our latest Feature Articles

Guidelines for Identifying and Referring Persons with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Going the Extra MILE: A Math Tutoring Program for Alcohol Affected Kids

Cocaine During Pregnancy

Central Nervous System Abnormalities Associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Caffeine During Pregnancy





Conference Presentations

FASD 2011 Webcast Available & Advance Notice for Adolescents and Adults with FASD 2012 View Here

Alcohol-Related Birth Disorders and the Law: How Should Attorneys and Judges Respond to FASD? View Here

"Bath Salts" Symposium at the CPDD Annual Meeting View Here


"Light Drinking in Pregnancy:  Is it Safe?"

MSACD Training

NOFAS Georgia Executive Director (Volunteer)



Behavioral Health Link Home Page

Georgia Crisis and Help Line

Alcohol During Pregnancy / WSJ

Download the FASD app  -- from your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, go to the Apple App store and search for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. You can also find it under CDC. To access it directly, visit:

Announcing the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) “App”

Main Application Features:

Easy-to-read information on diagnosis and treatments for children with FASDs

Individualized pages for different users – women, families, health care providers, educators, and partners

Training and education resources

Access to free materials on alcohol use during pregnancy and FASDs

Zero-to Three releases new DVD

Safe Babies Court Teams:  Building Strong Families and Healthy Communities.’   This DVD discusses a model for dealing with the needs of maltreated infants and toddlers.  DVDs are available through the MSACD project. Visit Here for Information

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can have permanent negative health effects on your developing baby:

Avoiding Alcohol During Pregnancy (A Cup of Health with CDC)

Avoiding Alcohol During Pregnancy (A Minute of Health with CDC)

Send E-Cards (CDC)