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Last month, the Journal of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) released a special collection of articles about FASD prevention, diagnosis, intervention and support. The journal issue features the work of Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network staff, Research Leads, Family Advisory Committee (FAC) members, Adults with FASD Expert Collaboration Team (AFECT) members, trainees, board members, and community partners and collaborators.
As part of the special issue, researchers from the Prevention Network Action Team contributed an article entitled At a Juncture: Exploring Patterns and Trends in FASD Prevention Research from 2015 – 2021 Using the Four-Part Model of Prevention. This article leverages off our annual annotated bibliographies, to identify trends in FASD prevention research over the six-year period.
From 2015 – 2020, n = 532 articles were identified that addressed:
- the prevalence and influences on alcohol use during pregnancy,
- interventions at each of the Four-Part Prevention Model, and
- systemic, destigmatizing, and ethical considerations.
The majority of the research was from the United States (n = 216), Canada (n = 91), the United Kingdom (n = 60), and Australia (n = 58).
While the literature continues to have a heavy focus on the prevalence and influences on alcohol use during pregnancy, a trend could be seen towards research on evidence-based interventions which support positive health outcomes for women and their children.
- Across both Level 1 and Level 2 prevention, there was an emphasis on the role of technology and its importance in disseminating education and messaging about alcohol use in pregnancy and FASD.
- Attention to Levels 3 and 4 demonstrated the importance of multi-service, trauma-informed, relational, and holistic approaches in supporting women and their children.
- While women’s voices were increasingly represented in the literature, further efforts are required to amplify their voices and address stigma.
This review synthesized the current evidence and demonstrated how the work on FASD prevention has expanded in the recent years to reflect the nuance and interconnectedness of the Four-Part Prevention Model. The opportunities for prevention through research and evidenced-informed practice and policy are unlimited. We used the title “At a Juncture” as now we can definitely see a critical mass of research evidence on FASD prevention that can support practice and policy action related to awareness raising, brief support, wrap-around support, stigma reduction and change to alcohol policy!