For Immediate Release
Contact: Kaylyn Kendall Dines
UMDNJ - New Jersey Medical School
UMDNJ Participates in a Statewide Effort To Combat Fetal Alcohol
at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)
are participating in a statewide effort to address long-term birth
defects caused by the maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.
The Child Evaluation
Center at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School is one of six sites designated
as a regional center of excellence by the New Jersey Department
of Health and Senior Services.
The mission of the regional
centers of excellence is to educate citizens about the consequences
of alcohol use during pregnancy, screen children through age six,
and evaluate children who are diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
and Alcohol Related Neurological Developmental Disorders (ARND).
The Child Evaluation
Center at UMDNJ and the Children's Hospital of New Jersey at Newark
Beth Israel Medical Center, another designated center, are leading
the North Jersey portion of a $450,000 statewide effort to address
prevention, education, diagnosis and services related to FAS and
ARND, the leading preventable causes of mental retardation.
Dr. Susan Adubato, assistant
professor of psychiatry and pediatrics of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical
School, said, "Statistics show that many women of child-bearing
age either use drugs or alcohol during their pregnancy. Appropriate
facilities to evaluate the children of these women are nonexistent.
It is critical that we educate families about this FAS/ARND which
affects all socio-economic backgrounds.
"The Governor's Council
on the Prevention of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
and the New Jersey Task Force on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome have taken
the lead in the state to address these concerns. By documenting
the statewide need for early identification and diagnosis of children
with FAS/ARND, funding for the development of regional centers was
secured through the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services,"
Dr. Adubato said.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
is a non-curable birth defect caused by the maternal consumption
of alcohol during pregnancy and can result in mental retardation.
Similarly, the Alcohol Related Neurological Disorder is characterized
by brain damage and physical malformations, but mental retardation
may not be present. FAS and ARND often result in behavioral disorders.
The following symptoms
and characteristics are common in infants born with Fetal Alcohol
Syndrome: low birth weight, specific facial characteristics, small
head circumference, growth retardation, central nervous disorders
and brain damage. Developmental disorders which are also common
include: attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, processing,
judgmental and perception disorders.
According to Dr. Denise
Aloisio, developmental pediatrician for the Child Evaluation Center
at the Meridian Health System in Neptune, another designated center,
"Medical literature indicate that one in 1,000 babies are born with
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Fortunately, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and
Alcohol Related Neurological Developmental Disorders are 100 percent
The three other regional
centers of excellence are: South Jersey Hospital System in Vineland,
Children's Seashore House of Philadelphia in Atlantic City, and
the Laurie Neurodevelopmental Institute at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson
Medical School in New Brunswick. Services will be provided in each
of New Jersey's 21 counties.
Each regional center
of excellence has a multi-disciplinary health team to provide the
child and his or her family with comprehensive support services
regarding behavioral health, substance abuse referrals and support
groups. The health team at each site is composed of pediatricians,
psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, disabilities specialists,
geneticists, speech therapists and family counselors.
Maternal Child Health
Consortium throughout New Jersey provides services to improve access
to quality health care for pregnant women, infants, children and
adolescents by coordinating community and hospital-based services.
New Jersey's Maternal
Child Health Consortia will coordinate services with the newly established
regional FAS centers to provide continuity of care which includes
efforts in prevention, identification, diagnosis and treatment.
The Gateway Maternal and Child Health Consortium in Newark will
conduct outreach efforts at daycare centers, pediatric offices and
According to a report
from the Governor's Council on Prevention of Mental Retardation
and Developmental Disabilities and the New Jersey Task Force on
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the state's annual birth rate of approximately
"110,000 translates to at least 11 children being born with FAS
and about 30 to 40 children being born with ARND." In addition,
each year between 6,438 and 12,210 babies may be exposed to harmful
substances while in the womb.
The UMDNJ-New Jersey
Medical School is one of three medical schools of the University
of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. UMDNJ comprises New Jersey's
only medical schools, the state's only dental school, a nursing
school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health
related professions and a school of public health on campuses in
Newark, Piscataway/New Brunswick, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford.
UMDNJ also operates University Behavioral HealthCare in Newark and
Piscataway. It is affiliated with more than 200 health care and
educational institutions throughout the state.
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