Development of Canadian screening tools for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Summer;15(2):e344-66. Epub 2008 Sep 5.


Background: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is the most common cause of neurobehavioural handicap in North America. Screening for FASD may facilitate diagnosis and hence management of these children. We present a variety of screening tools for the identification of children at risk for FASD.

Methods: We critically reviewed and evaluated published and practiced methods for their potential of screening suspected cases, their epidemiological characteristics (sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values) [Phase I], as well as their feasibility [Phase II].

Results: The following five tools were selected for the FASD screening toolkit: screening fatty acid ethyl esters in neonatal meconium, the modified Child Behaviour Checklist, Medicine Wheel tool, Asante Centre Probation Officer Tool, and maternal history of drinking and drug use.

Conclusions: The toolkit for FASD screening aims at screening different populations, from the newborns to youth and at-risk mothers. It is anticipated that the toolkit will facilitate diagnosis of FASD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control
  • Biomarkers
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Esters / analysis
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / epidemiology
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Meconium / chemistry
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / diagnosis*
  • Substance Abuse Detection


  • Biomarkers
  • Esters
  • Fatty Acids