Understanding a Devastating Pregnancy Exposure

The Center for Better Beginning’s co-director Dr. Kenneth Lyons Jones identified fetal alcohol syndrome in 1973 in a seminal paper published in the scientific journal, The Lancet. Since that time, he has been a pivotal force in new information and research into Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Our current research on the detrimental effects of prenatal alcohol exposure focuses on 3 areas: establishing the prevalence of FASD, testing methods to identify and reduce the impact of FASD in Ukraine, and designing and testing an intervention to reduce risky alcohol consumption among Native American women of child-bearing age.


Establishing Prevalence of FASD in San Diego

Estimates of how often FASD occurs in the United States are outdated and are thought to be under-estimated. With funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at NIH, our “Ready, Set, Go!” study is establishing the prevalence of FASD in San Diego, and is collaborating with researchers at other locations to establish these estimates nationally. By determining the actual number of children who are affected by FASD, this information can be used by educators, researchers, and the government to help plan prevention and treatment programs.

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Prenatal Alcohol Exposure in Ukraine

As part of the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD) and in collaboration with local investigators, our research team has been part of a long-term study in Ukraine focused on the earlier identification and prevention of FASD in four areas: (a) the contribution of pre- and post-natal nutritional factors to risk for FASD; (b) the development of a preschool neurobehavioral testing battery appropriate for early identification of affected children; (c) the utility of a novel and objective biomarker of exposure to alcohol; and (d) the exploration of genetic and epigenetic factors that may modify risk for FASD in mother/child pairs.


Prevention in Indigenous Communities

In an innovative, synergistic partnership with the Indian Health Council, Inc. and funded by the Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH), our team is currently conducting research to reduce risky alcohol consumption among American Indian/Alaska Native women of child-bearing age in an effort to prevent FASD, and to develop a model and support network for Native American families affected by FASD. Through our participation in this research initiative, we have been able to raise awareness of the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy and test various intervention strategies to see what works best within the community. We are continuously working to establish support for families affected by FASD.