U of L opens fetal alcohol spectrum disorders clinic


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville Weisskopf Child Evaluation Center has launched the state“s first multidisciplinary fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) clinic for children whose mothers drank alcohol during their pregnancy.

    Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation and developmental disabilities. Each year, up to 40,000 babies are born with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Children with these disorders are also at risk for psychiatric issues, learning and behavior problems, future drug and alcohol addiction and other disabilities.

    “With early diagnosis, we can provide appropriate developmental and educational services for the child and support services for the parents. Plus, we give information for parents, teachers and counselors to help them modify the environment so the child can be more successful,” said developmental pediatrician Yasmin Senturias, director of the clinic.

    The clinic, which serves children throughout the state, is part of a statewide task force that aims to improve the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Kentucky. The task force is also working to train educators, counselors and parents and raise prevention awareness.

    The multidisciplinary clinic, which is held monthly at the Weisskopf Child Evaluation Center, provides evaluations by a developmental pediatrician, a geneticist, a psychologist, a speech and language pathologist and a clinical social worker.

    “Ours is a model clinic because of the breadth of services we provide. A developmental pediatrician offers unique insights into the brain-based reasons for these children’s behavior and learning problems. We have a geneticist who can distinguish FASD from other syndromes. Parents and children really benefit from the availability of all disciplines at one time,” Senturias said.