New Resolution Urges Lawyers And Judges To Receive FASD Training

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Decision Comes On Heels Of CA Murder Case And Ahead Of ‘International FASD Awareness Day’

SAN DIEGO, CA – Professors in the UC San Diego School of Medicine and directors of the California Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) Pregnancy Health Information Line applaud the American Bar Association’s (ABA) new resolution urging attorneys, judges, state, local and specialty bar associations, and law school clinical programs to receive training that will help them identify and respond effectively to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in children and adults. The resolution was passed on the heels of a local high profile murder case and just ahead of International FASD Awareness Day, which is recognized on September 9, 2012.

FASD Awareness Day has been recognized on the ninth day of September every year since 1999. The ninth day of the ninth month was chosen as a reminder for women to abstain from drinking alcohol during the nine months of pregnancy.

“Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the leading known cause of intellectual disabilities in children, yet it’s still an under-recognized disorder throughout the world,” said Kenneth Lyons Jones, MD, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego who was the first doctor to identify Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in 1973. “This resolution will help more people recognize the signs of FAS so that individuals with the disorder receive proper treatment and, hopefully, they will be prevented from crowding our judicial system as repeat offenders,” he added.

The ABA resolution also comes on the heels of a high-profile San Diego County case where an 11-year old boy accused of murdering his 12-year-old friend was found mentally incompetent to stand trial as a result of FAS. His disorder, previously undiagnosed, is suspected of contributing to his alleged actions. The ABA resolution urges the passage of laws that would treat the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure and better assist those struggling with FASD.

Christina Chambers, PhD, UC San Diego professor and program director of the CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line points out the overwhelming evidence of more than 30 years of research supporting the conclusion that alcohol can be harmful to the developing baby throughout the entire pregnancy. “It is crucial we continue delivering a message of abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy,” said Chambers. “FASD is 100% preventable and resolutions such as the ABA’s help to raise awareness of this message,” she added.

CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line is the California affiliate of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), a North American non-profit dedicated to providing accurate evidence-based, clinical information to patients and health care professionals about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. CTIS counselors are available to CA women and health care providers who have questions about alcohol, medications and more during pregnancy or breastfeeding toll-free at (800) 532-3749 or online via instant message counseling at Outside of CA, please call OTIS at 866-626-OTIS (6847).

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