Greatest Predictor of Success for Fetal Alcohol or Drug Exposure

Dawn Davenport


Greatest predictor of success for fetal alcohol and drug exposureThe recurring message from this week’s Creating a Family show with Dr. Ira Chasnoff, one of the leading experts in the US on treating children with prenatal alcohol and drug exposure, is to assume your child has exposure, especially if adopted from foster care or internationally, and get early treatment.


Dr. Chasnoff cited research which found that 60-80% of children adopted from foster care have fetal alcohol or drug exposure. Prenatal exposure for international adoptions vary by country, with the countries of the former Eastern Block having the highest exposure. His philosophy is that for all adoptions, adoptive parents should assume some degree of prenatal drug or alcohol exposure unless proven otherwise.

Parents want to believe that with enough love or enough church, their wonderful child will be spared. They grasp for straws that their child will not be affected by fetal exposure if:

a) She was not born drug dependent.

b) His birth mother stopped drinking in the last trimester.

c) Her birth mother admitted to drug use, but not alcohol use.

Unfortunately, none of these factors really matter.

Greatest Predictor of Success for Fetal Exposure to Alcohol or Drugs

The news is not all bleak. Research has shown that children who are removed from the drug or alcohol addiction environment and receive early evaluation and treatment before age six have greatly improved outcomes. Listen to the show to hear more about what we know that works for these kiddos.

Bottom Line

Go into adoption with your eyes open and be prepared to get help for your child early.

P. S. Dr. Chasnoff mentioned a resource in the show and I promised the link:  Article in Psychology Today: Sensory Integration: Shaping Perceptions of the World-A newly emerging therapy for alcohol- and drug-exposed children

22/05/2014 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 5 Comments

5 Responses to Greatest Predictor of Success for Fetal Alcohol or Drug Exposure

  1. Avatar Kristin says:

    Hi Dawn, Great show. Very informative. Dr. Chasnoff also mentioned a handbook for parents about talking to your child about substance abuse/drug exposure. You said you would link to this handbook, but I don’t see it. Do you know the name or where I can find it? Thanks!

  2. Avatar Emma says:

    Wow. I had no idea the percentage was so high! I’m glad this is being talked about though.

    Emma from ICLW

  3. Thanks for the article, Dawn. I’d be interested in hearing what treatment for fetal alcohol exposure involves.

    • Lisa, I asked Dr. Chasnoff that question and he answered it on the show. He is strongly in favor of having a good neurological evaluation done looking at three (I think) specific areas of development and then developing a treatment plan to strengthen the weaknesses. I would add that in addition to strengthening the weak areas, we should also look to see where our kids are strong and work at giving them opportunities to shine. This part of the show was before the midway point.

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