Institute for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Discovery (IFASDD)

A Program Integrating Research, Education & Screening Services

The Center for Better Beginnings is home to an integrative program to provide education, screening, and research on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), and to provide support to families affected by these conditions.

Led by Dr. Kenneth Lyons Jones, the physician who co-identified fetal alcohol syndrome in 1973, and Andrea Torzon, our Institute for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Discovery (IFASDD) is the nation’s leading epicenter for work to prevent alcohol-exposed pregnancies and to assist those who are affected. As a multidisciplinary center, IFASSD brings together medical physicians, researchers, parent advocates and educators as a think-tank for this under-recognized disorder.

Screening services

Screening Services

Detecting Alcohol-based Birth Defects

IFASDD provides screening services to at-risk children who may have been impacted by prenatal alcohol exposure. FASD screenings are provided to children receiving services from Kidstart (an early intervention program run by Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego), as well as youth involved with the juvenile justice system. Children who screen positive are then referred to Dr. Jones at UC San Diego Health Pediatrics in Kearny Mesa or Dr. Miguel del Campo at Rady Children’s Hosptial FASD Clinic for a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation.


Research & Discovery

Alcohol Research & DiscoveryBroadening the Scope of Understanding

The multidisciplinary nature of IFASDD makes innovative research possible. A few examples of projects include:

  • A national study to determine the national prevalence of FASD.
  • An intervention study evaluating whether choline (a nutritional supplement) can reduce the severity of cognitive deficits associated with FASD.
  • Testing an intervention to reduce alcohol exposure among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people of reproductive age.
  • A study examining if alcohol exposure can be identified in discarded baby teeth

Read more about our pioneering efforts to understand the impact and scope of problems associated with prenatal alcohol exposure.

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Community Outreach & Advocacy

Community Outreach

Nine Months Matter: Our Public Awareness Campaign

Nine Months Matter is a public awareness campaign to promote alcohol-free pregnancies. Many people are unaware of how alcohol can harm a developing baby.  Together, we can eliminate FASD by increasing our community’s understanding of how prenatal alcohol exposure affects a developing baby. Find out how more about our public awareness campaign and how you can support us on the Nine Months Matter website.

Professional Workshops

Trainings are offered to a range of audiences in the San Diego region including physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, attorneys, probation officers, students, and educators. Topics include an overview of the FASD phenotype and clinical presentation, the neurobehavioral aspects and effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on educational functioning, and a summary of current research, interventions and parent perspectives. Our in-service workshops are specifically tailored to professionals working with communities affected by FASD, and custom designed for greatest impact. If you are interested in scheduling a FASD workshop, let us know by filling out our Workshop Request Form.

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Alcohol in Pregnancy

FASD Understanding the Spectrum of Effects

Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of birth defects and neurodevelopmental disabilities in the United States. It can cause developmental, cognitive, and behavioral problems that last a lifetime, and that are known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). FASD is a range of effects that can occur when a developing baby is exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. Many people don’t fully understand how devastating alcohol is to a developing brain, and what a possible FASD diagnosis means.

We’ve put together resources for the community to understand alcohol’s harmful effects on a developing baby, and a guide to the spectrum of FASD diagnoses.

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