Coordinating Council on Prevention of Alcohol-related harms and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

The Institute is implementing research and practical activities to prevent harmful effects of alcohol consumption with active international participation. Coordination of the research and public activities in this direction is carried out under the leadership of the International Coordination Council on prevention of alcohol-related  harms and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, established at the Institute.

The members of the Council are specialists from various research and medical institutions in Russia and abroad, representatives of the World Health Organization and families with children with FAS. Together with international organizations, the Council members prepare and distribute materials on FAS, hold information events (archive of events, including presentations by leading Russian and foreign experts), appear in the media, and implement research and public activities.

Important. Alcohol is a teratogenic factor, and its use during pregnancy leads to irreversible changes in the fetus. The level of alcohol consumption in Russia poses a serious risk to the health of population and future generations, as prenatal exposure to alcohol disrupts the normal course of pregnancy and can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, congenital malformations and other fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), including fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The total number of people with FAS in Russia is unknown. The prevalence of alcohol consumption among women of reproductive age is high, which often leads to fetal developmental disorders. It is especially dangerous to drink alcohol early in pregnancy, when the woman may not be aware of her pregnancy (silent period).

A recent study of more than 6,000 first-graders in the U.S. (May, P.A., et al. Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in 4 US Communities. JAMA. Online February 6, 2018) has found that 5% of the total number of the children surveyed have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

“Prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading preventable cause of developmental disabilities worldwide,” said George F. Koob, Directorof the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) The findings of this study confirm that FASD is a significant public health problem, and strategies to expand screening, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment are needed to address it.

FASD is an umbrella term for a range of health effects caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Individuals with FASD may experience growth deficiencies, facial abnormalities, and organ damage, including to the brain. The effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on the brain can result in a range of neurobiological deficits that contribute to physical, cognitive, behavioral, and social challenges throughout life.

The prevalence of FAS in orphanages (according to the findings of the studies carried out in two regions of the Russian Federation in 2000-2009) ranged from 6% to 9%, which is several times higher than the number of children with Down syndrome living in the same orphanages.

FASD is completely preventable if a woman abstains from alcohol during pregnancy as early as possible.

Scientific Director
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Leading Researcher
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