ACADEMIA Letters: Difficulties in Diagnosing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the Judicial System

Devji, A., Johnson, P.A., Johnson, J.C., Singh, J., Mardon, A. (2021). Difficulties in Diagnosing Fetal
Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the Judicial System. Academia Letters, Article 1158.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) refers to the broad spectrum of disabilities and
negative consequences that stem from exposure to alcohol in utero. The spectrum of developmental disabilities that FASD individuals face are cognitive, physical, and psychosocial, while the severity of the delays and developmental changes are a result of the amount of exposure and the time of exposure to alcohol in utero.

As a relatively new concept to the justice system, specifically for legal professionals, there
are a number of unanswered questions in regard to the prevalence, diagnosis and long-term
effects of FASD. It is considered a mental disorder that must be diagnosed by a physician,
although a diagnosis can only take place if there is admission from the mother that she consumed alcohol during pregnancy (Pei, 2010). As a result, many individuals with FASD go
undiagnosed. This has been a difficult issue for physicians, due to the stigma surrounding the
overuse and abuse of alcohol, which will likely prevent individuals from coming forward and
admitting their alcohol use during pregnancy.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Edmonton and area Fetal Alcohol Network Society, its stakeholders, and/or funder

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