College students' knowledge about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Background: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) are the leading known preventable birth defects in North America. Knowledge surveys about FASD have been conducted with various health and allied healthcare providers and have proven useful in identifying gaps in knowledge and differences among provider groups to support prevention efforts. To date, no research has been conducted exploring FASD knowledge among college students.

Objective: This study explored FASD knowledge in a sample of college students, a group at particularly high risk for alcohol-exposed pregnancies. Findings are compared to professionals in several healthcare and affiliated professional groups who were previously surveyed with the same FASD-related items.

Methods: Surveys from 1,035 college students at a northwestern university were analyzed.  Included with the ACHA-National College Health Assessment II were questions regarding FASD. College students' knowledge was compared with that of professionals in key healthcare and affiliated positions to define their relative awareness of FASD risk.

Results: Overall, findings revealed adequate FASD knowledge among college students. Although minor differences emerged when comparing students and professionals' responses, most respondent groups answered with an 85% accuracy rate or higher. 

Conclusion: College students demonstrated adequate knowledgeable about FASD.  Future research must explore whether such knowledge translates into lower risk behavior and consequent reduction in alcohol-exposed pregnancies.

Key Words:  Alcohol; Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders; Fetal Alcohol Syndrome




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