Alcohol is a teratogen. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) affect about 1% of live births, causing severe impairment. Individuals affected by FASDs are overrepresented in psychiatric settings. This study reports on the education and experience of psychiatry trainees in approaching FASDs.
Data were collected from psychiatry trainees throughout the country by use of a web-based questionnaire.
A representative sample (N=308) of psychiatry trainees responded; 19% rate their education on FASDs as "good" or "excellent," and 89% report that they would like more education on FASDs: 6%, 15%, and 30%, endorsed the statement "It is safe to drink some alcohol" during the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimesters, respectively. Only 31% correctly report that individuals with an FASD are at equal risk for adverse outcomes as individuals with full-blown fetal alcohol syndrome.
Results reveal that training on FASDs is inadequate. Psychiatry trainees poorly understand the importance of abstinence throughout pregnancy. Trainees who report receiving supervision specifically addressing FASDs also report making the diagnosis much more frequently, suggesting that supervision in clinical settings is effective teaching. Results reveal that FASDs are underrecognized, resulting in missed opportunities for prevention and intervention.