Understanding the history of FASD and the origin of early prevention efforts

Some of you may be familiar with the work of historian, Janet Golden, a professor at Rutgers University. Janet is well known for her book Message in a Bottle: The Making of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (Harvard University Press, 2005).

One reviewer described the book as “the most comprehensive and easily read text on the history, politics, public health debate, legislation, psychosocial and family dynamics, and media discussion concerning fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). This is a must-read for any professional involved in the study of alcohol abuse and neurodevelopmental outcomes of children, fetal medicine, pediatrics, social work, psychiatry, and other areas of mental health.”

In case you don’t feel like reading an entire book, Golden gave a one hour lecture a couple of weeks ago that has now been posted on YouTube. The lecture is a cultural biography of FASD in the late 20th century and describes how FASD became viewed as a medical issue and thus a medical problem and how prevention efforts became narrowly defined as activities to support the “crusade to warn” women of the dangers of alcohol.

Read more about the history of FASD by Janet Golden

“Observing the Effects of Alcohol Abuse and Pregnancy in the Late 19th Century.” International Journal of Epidemiology 40, 2 (2011): 292-93. doi:10.1093/ije/dyr005

“A Cultural History of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, MD Advisor 3 (2010): 22-29.

“Opinion: Stopping Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Women Who Drink Need Treatment,” in Jacqueline Langworth, ed. Perspectives on Diseases and Disorders: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (Greenhaven Press, 2010).

“The ‘Tempest in a Cocktail Glass’: Mothers, Alcohol, and Television, 1973-1992” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 25 (2000): 473-498.

“‘An Argument that Goes Back to the Womb:’ The Demedicalization of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, 1973-1992,” Journal of Social History 33 (1999): 269-290.