Intervention for individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: treatment approaches and case management

Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2009;15(3):258-67. doi: 10.1002/ddrr.67.


Exposure to alcohol in utero is considered to be the leading cause of developmental disabilities of known etiology. The most severe consequence of such exposure, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), is characterized by a distinct constellation of characteristic facial anomalies, growth retardation, and central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction. Some individuals with prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) do not meet the full criteria for FAS, but instead are diagnosed with partial FAS, alcohol related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND), or alcohol related birth defects (ARBD). The entire continuum of effects from PAE is increasingly being referred to under the umbrella term of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). An extensive body of research has documented major cognitive, behavioral, adaptive, social, and emotional impairments among individuals with FASDs. Although FAS was identified in the U.S. over 35 years ago, the development, evaluation, and dissemination of evidence-based interventions for individuals with FASDs have lagged behind significantly. Encouragingly, however, in recent years there has been a marked increase in efforts to design and test interventions to remediate the impairments associated with prenatal alcohol exposure. This article will review treatment needs and considerations for individuals with FASDs and their families, current empirically tested treatment approaches, case management issues, and suggestions for future directions in research on the treatment of FASDs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case Management*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Comorbidity
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Education
  • Education, Special
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Family Therapy
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / diagnosis
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / psychology
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Patient Care Team
  • Pregnancy
  • Prognosis
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational
  • Socialization
  • Young Adult