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  • Study Finds High Prevalence of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Disorders Among Patients of Chicago Clinic

    Over 38 percent of the patients who attended a family medicine clinic in Chicago’s Southside had a neurodevelopmental disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure (ND-PAE).

    While national surveys has estimated that disorders due to fetal alcohol exposure may affect 2% to 5% of individuals, this new report, published yesterday in Psychiatric Services in Advance, shows how pervasive this problem can get in certain communities.

    The article assessed the records of 590 adult and 21 youth psychiatric patients--almost entirely African-American--who attended the Family Medicine Clinic at Jackson Park Hospital.

    Of the 611 patients, 237 (226 adults and 11 children) had clinical profiles consistent with ND-PAE, now recognized as an emerging condition in DSM-V; in contrast, only 53 patients presented with a “classical” DSM-V neurodevelopmental disorder such as ADHD or autism. The higher ND-PAE prevalence among the child patients (57 percent) may suggest that this problem is becoming more pronounced, though the sample size was small.

    “Fetal alcohol exposure is at the root of much of the violence, abuse, incarceration, special education, and poor adaptability that plague these underserved African-American communities,” said lead author Carl Bell, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry and public health at the University of Illinois School of Medicine. “Hopefully these results will bring more attention to the problem of ND-PAE, which is the most common preventable form of intellectual disability.”

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