Recognition of clinical characteristics for population-based surveillance of fetal alcohol syndrome

Jennifer G. Andrews, Maureen K. Galindo, F. John Meaney, Argelia Benavides, Linnette Mayate, Deborah Fox, Sydney Pettygrove, Leslie O'Leary, Christopher Cunniff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) rests on identification of characteristic facial, growth, and central nervous system (CNS) features. Public health surveillance of FAS depends on documentation of these characteristics. We evaluated if reporting of FAS characteristics is associated with the type of provider examining the child. Methods: We analyzed cases aged 7–9 years from the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Surveillance Network II (FASSNetII). We included cases whose surveillance records included the type of provider (qualifying provider: developmental pediatrician, geneticist, neonatologist; other physician; or other provider) who evaluated the child as well as the FAS diagnostic characteristics (facial dysmorphology, CNS impairment, and/or growth deficiency) reported by the provider. Results: A total of 345 cases were eligible for this analysis. Of these, 188 (54.5%) had adequate information on type of provider. Qualifying physicians averaged more than six reported FAS characteristics while other providers averaged less than five. Qualifying physicians reported on facial characteristics and developmental delay more frequently than other providers. Also, qualifying physicians reported on all three domains of characteristics (facial, CNS, and growth) in 97% of cases while others reported all three characteristics on two thirds of cases. Conclusions: Documentation in medical records during clinical evaluations for FAS is lower than optimal for cross-provider communication and surveillance purposes. Lack of documentation limits the quality and quantity of information in records that serve as a major source of data for public health surveillance systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-862
Number of pages12
JournalBirth Defects Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • clinical diagnosis
  • diagnostic characteristics
  • fetal alcohol syndrome
  • public health surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Embryology
  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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