A survey of physicians knowledge regarding awareness of maternal alcoholuse and the diagnosis of FAS

Alexandra C. Nevin, Parshuram Christopher, Irena Nulman, Gideon Koren, Adrienne Einarson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Background: Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the world that is a human teratogen whose use among women of childbearing age has been steadily increasing. It is also probable that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is under diagnosed by physicians. The objectives of this study were twofold: 1) to evaluate the experience, knowledge and confidence of family physicians with respect to the diagnosis of FAS and 2) to evaluate physicians awareness of maternal drinking patterns. Methods and Participants: A multiple choice anonymous questionnaire was sent to a randomly selected group of family physicians in the Metropolitan Toronto area. Results: There was a 73% (75/103) total response rate; Overall, 6/75 (8%) of family physicians reported that they had actually diagnosed a child with FAS. 17.9% had suspicions but did not make a diagnosis and 12.7% reported making a referral to confirm the diagnosis. Physician rated confidence in the ability to diagnosis FAS was low, with 49% feeling they had very little confidence. 75% reported counselling pregnant women and 60.8% reported counselling childbearing women in general on the use of alcohol. When asked what screening test they used to detect the use of alcohol, 75% described frequency/quantity. Not a single respondent identified using the current accepted screening method for alcohol use (TWEAK) which is recommended by The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Conclusions: Family physicians do not feel confident about diagnosing FAS. None of the physicians were aware of the current screening methods to accurately gage alcohol use in pregnant and childbearing women.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalBMC Family Practice
StatePublished - 8 Feb 2002
Externally publishedYes


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