Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in Israel

Yehuda Senecky*, Dov Inbar, Gary Diamond, Lina Basel-Vanagaite, Shmuel Rigler, Gabriel Chodick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a range of disabilities caused by gestational exposure to alcohol. FASD is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation and developmental disability in the United States, with an incidence of 1-10 per 1000 live births. FASD in Israel has yet to be examined systematically. Objectives: To evaluate professionals' experience, awareness and knowledge of FASD in Israel and their awareness of maternal consumption of alcohol, and to collect epidemiological data on the syndrome in Israel. Methods: A short questionnaire was sent to all 43 program directors of genetic institutes (n=14) and child developmental centers in Israel (n=29). Four questions related to their experience and knowledge of FASD. The epidemiological survey included data from all 17 hospitals in Israel and from the two main health management organizations within the public health care system. Results: The response rate was 98% (n=42). A total of 38.1% of respondents reported having diagnosed at least one case of FASD and fewer than 10% of respondents stated that the knowledge regarding FASD among physicians in Israel was adequate. Developmental pediatricians were more likely to have diagnosed at least one case as compared to geneticists. During the period 1998-2007 the diagnosis of FASD appeared in the records of only 4 patients from the total number of 17 hospitals in Israel. During the same period only six patients were diagnosed at the HMO within the public health care system. Conclusions: Despite the accumulated knowledge on FASD in many countries and the increase in alcohol consumption in Israel, professionals' awareness of its potential damage is limited. Educational programs to increase physician awareness should accompany publicity campaigns warning the public of the dangers associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-622
Number of pages4
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Alcohol
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal alcohol consumption


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