The Effectiveness of a Community-Based Intervention for Parents with FASD

Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, 10230-111 Ave., Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Community Mental Health Journal (Impact Factor: 1.03). 04/2011; 47(2):209-19. DOI: 10.1007/s10597-009-9273-9
Source: PubMed


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Step by Step program in which mentors work with parents affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) on a one-to-one basis. Mentors help clients identify and work towards meeting their needs and achieving their goals. Data from 24 closed client files was collected and analyzed and as predicted, the program was effective in helping clients reduce their needs and achieve their goals. The clients' reason for leaving the program as well as whether or not they had a formal FASD diagnosis had an impact on their success in the program. Data collected on additional mental health issues, experience of abuse and addictions helped to characterize the sample of clients and correlations were found between clients' experience of abuse and their past and/or present addictions issues. Limitations of this study as well as future implications were also discussed.

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    ABSTRACT: High numbers of individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) have been described as having mental health problems.  This article summarizes research about mental health problems in FASD and considers related developmental and environmental issues. A computer-based literature search was conducted in the databases Medline, PsycINFO, Google Scholar, Academic Search Complete, and Education Resources Information Centre for articles addressing the prevalence and types of mental health issues in individuals affected by FASD.  High rates of mental disorders within the FASD and prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) population were found to be consistently reported for both internalizing and externalizing disorders. Moreover, problems that emerge in childhood may reflect a convergence of genetic, environmental, and neurophysiological factors that persist into adulthood. Researchers are beginning to document the impacts of PAE on later mental health development. Further longitudinal study is needed to determine whether there is an increasing severity of mental health deficits and consequences with age, and whether any such changes reflect increasingly deteriorating environmental factors or brain-based factors. Additionally, research is needed to design interventions to better address the unique mental health needs of this population.
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    ABSTRACT: Overwhelming evidence on the impact of maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy has prompted increased attention to the link between prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and a constellation of developmental disabilities, which are characterized by physical, cognitive, and behavioral impairments. Importantly, individuals with PAE are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems. This review summarizes the current literature on the underlying mechanisms of PAE vulnerability, including epigenetic, genetic, and environmental risk factors that predispose individuals with PAE to psychiatric illness. The studies cited are from animal and human research and include a developmental perspective. Research on the mental health problems suffered by individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) throughout development highlights the need for training of mental health professionals in the identification and the provision of specific treatments to address the unique features of this developmental disability.
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