Synopsis: Dr. Kenneth L. Jones was the lead author on the team in Seattle that 40 years ago identified the first cases of fetal damage by alcohol, and coined the term fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Dr. Jones, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California in San Diego (UCSD), describes the original breakthrough, the 40 years of continuous discovery, and the challenges of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder today.
Dr. Kenneth Lyons Jones is chief of the Division of Dysmorphology/Teratology in the Department of Pediatrics at UCSD. His research has focused on the clinical delineation of birth defects, mechanisms of normal and abnormal morphogenesis and the recognition of new human teratogens.
Dr. Jones has authored over 400 publications in scientific journals as well as several books, and is the author of Smith's Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation. He is considered to be the father of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) as he was one of two doctors at the University of Washington who first identified FAS in the United States in 1973.
Dr. Jones is past president of the Western Society for Pediatric Research, president-elect of the Teratology Society and co-chair of the Scientific Working Group on Diagnostic Guidelines for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, convened by the National Center of Birth Defects & Developmental Disabilities. He is also a member of two committees established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the Pregnancy Labeling Advisory Committee and the Subcommittee established in 2000 to evaluate the continued misuse of Accutane during pregnancy. Dr. Jones also serves on various other boards and committees. On March 15, 2007, Dr. Kenneth Lyons Jones received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Genetics from the March of Dimes.
Synopsis: Even a single prenatal alcohol exposure may cause a lifelong disorder. Affected individuals endure variety of behavioural failures of variable severity. The underlying mechanism behind this relationship is not understood. Recent results however have begun to offer novel insights. They suggest that the observed abnormalities may be related to aberrant expression of pathway specific gene(s). Also, the aberrations in the gene expression may be initiated and maintained for life by alcohol's effect on DNA methylation, histone modification and miRNA expression.
About the speaker: Dr. Shiva Singh is a professor of Human Molecular Genetics in the Department of Biology at the University of Western Ontario. His research has led him down many prolific and fruitful paths of study on complex diseases such as schizophrenia and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Dr. Singh's various endeavours are reflected in an exceptional publication record of over 250 peer-reviewed papers, membership on university, national and international academic bodies and supervision of over 150 trainees. His academic excellence has been recognized by variety of awards including the Distinguished University Professorship (2006) of Western University.
Synopsis: Dr. Rovet discusses the need for validated efficacious therapies to deal with the core deficits of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and shows how difficulties in executive function and emotion regulation represent core deficits in self-regulation. She introduces the 12-week Alert Program for Self-Regulation and shows limitations of past research using Alert in the FASD population. She also describes the approach at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) involving a randomized control design that compared behavioural and neuroanatomic changes in children with FASD who received Alert (n=18) versus children wait-listed for Alert on study completion (n=19) and typically developing control (TDC) children (n=20). Dr. Rovet highlights the behavioural areas showing greater improvement in the treated FASD group versus the other groups. Dr. Rovet also identifies brain regions showing the greatest structural and functional change following treatment and will show how regions critical for inhibitory control and emotion regulation functions change to the greatest degree in the Alert-treated group. Dr. Rovet then concludes by highlighting some of the relations between behavioural improvements and neuroplastic change in the sample.
About the speaker: Dr. Rovet is a professor of Psychology and Paediatrics and senior scientist in the Neuroscience & Mental Health Program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). Her research focuses on the neuropsychological and neuroanatomic effects of abnormal levels of thyroid hormone during pregnancy and fetal alcohol exposure. She has contributed to establishing clinical guidelines for congenital hypothyroidism, maternal hypothyroidism, FASD and ARND subtype. She has also been an expert at consensus meetings on environmental toxicants.
Synopsis: There is an increased prevalence of seizures in the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) population. However, to date, there exists limited information regarding the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms. The hippocampus is strongly implicated in FASD, and is able to generate population activities called sharp-waves, and emerging evidence suggests that dysregulation of sharp-waves leads to epileptiform activity. Dr. Carlen and Michal Krawczyk therefore set out to test the hypothesis that prenatal alcohol exposure may cause dysregulation of sharp-waves.
About the Speaker: Dr. Peter Carlen is a professor of Medicine (Neurology) and Physiology at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto. He is a clinician-scientist, specializing in epilepsy and neurodegenerative diseases at the Toronto Western Hospital of the University Health Network (UHN). He is a scientist and head of the Division of Fundamental Neuroscience. His main research interests are mechanisms of neural synchrony and entrainment in the context of epilepsy, fetal alcohol syndrome, and hypoglycemic seizures.
Synopsis: Recent findings from a prospective study on the efficacy of the neurobehavioural screening tool (NST) in clinical settings will be reviewed. The NST was completed by caregivers of children referred to a hospital clinic for a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) assessment, those referred for neurobehavioral concerns to separate clinic, and community controls. Results on the sensitivity of the NST for identifying children with FASD and its specificity against other neurodevelopmental disorders are discussed.
About the speaker: Dr. Rasmussen is an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta and a research affiliate of the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta. She received her PhD in Developmental Psychology in 2006 from the University of Alberta and is currently a Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator. She researches neurobehavioral functioning in children with FASD and studies the efficacy of FASD intervention programs and screening for FASD.
Synopsis: Youth with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) are more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system than youth who are not alcohol exposed. This study compared 197 youth before the courts. Youth with FASD were more impaired than youth without FASD but their profiles were similar. There was no relationship between impairments and the number or type of charges generated. Greater home stability related to fewer charges, and youth with foster care experience were at risk for more charges. Substance use resulted in more charges, particularly in youth with an FASD.
About the Speaker: Dr. Josephine Nanson is a registered doctoral psychologist currently in private practice, providing neuro- psychological assessments. She is considered a national expert on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Her interests range from child and family assessment, to fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), to child and adult neuro-psychology. She has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology; a Master of Arts in psychology; and received her PhD in psychology in 1988, all from the University of Saskatchewan. She was formerly a psychologist with the Alvin Buckwold Centre. There her responsibilities included assessing infants, children and adults referred because of developmental disabilities and counseling families. Dr. Nanson has been the recipient of many academic rewards and research grants and has served as a crucial informant on numerous national initiatives, such as; Best Practices: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/ Fetal Alcohol Effects and the Effects of Other Substance use During Pregnancy, and FASD Diagnostic Guidelines by Health Canada.
Synopsis: A Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) aimed to ultimately prevent further occurrences of fetal alcohol syndrome (FASD) was piloted in four mental health and substance abuse treatment agencies in Alberta. Through providing training related to screening for FASD and/or alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the TIP aimed to identify both women at risk of giving birth to a child with FASD and individuals who may have FASD themselves. This presentation will discuss program-level data related to the TIP's capacity to enhance effective screening and subsequent referrals, its feasibility, and its economic impact.
About the Speaker: Katrina Kully-Martens is a Vanier scholar and PhD student in the School and Clinical Child Psychology at the University of Alberta. Jointly supervised by Dr. Carmen Rasmussen and Dr. Jacqueline Pei, Katrina's research primarily concerns the development, implementation, and evaluation of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) prevention and intervention programs. She is also involved in projects examining neurobehavioral profiles and outcomes of children with FASD.
The 15th Anniversary Celebration and Annual Meeting of the FACE Research Network was sponsored by Beer Canada.
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The information on this website is not intended as a substitute for the advice and care of your doctor or other health-care provider. Always consult your doctor if you have any questions about exposures during pregnancy and before you take any medications.