Background: Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) is the United States' most common preventable cause of birth defects and intellectual and developmental disabilities collectively referred to as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
Objectives: This study was designed to identify gaps in pediatric providers' knowledge and practices regarding FASD patient identification, diagnosis, management and referral, and to inform needs-based FASD resource development.
Methods: Pediatric providers (pediatricians, trainees, nurse practitioners) were exposed to survey links embedded in newsletters electronically distributed to the membership of two national professional societies. Survey responses were compiled and analyzed using descriptive statistics.
Results: Of the 436 respondents, 71% were pediatricians and 88.2% suspected that a child in their practice could have an FASD. Only 29.2% of respondents felt "very comfortable" diagnosing or referring an individual with suspected FASD. Merely 11.5% were satisfied with their current FASD knowledge base and practice behaviour. Most respondents (89.6%) indicated online continuing education courses as preferred learning method and suggested their knowledge and practices would be best enhanced through FASD-specific diagnostic and referral checklists or algorithms, and patient education brochures and fact sheets.
Conclusions: This study showed that few respondents were satisfied with their current FASD knowledge or practice behaviours. Continuing FASD education, particularly through online courses, was strongly desired. To maximize FASD recognition and optimize care for patients with FASDs, pediatric care providers must ensure that their FASD knowledge base, practice skills and provision of medical home care remain current.
Keywords: fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; fetal alcohol syndrome; needs assessment.