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International Birth Defects Information Systems
Omni-Net Ukraine Birth Defects Prevention Program

International Birth Defects Information Systems

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Pilot project "Prenatal Ultrasound Markers of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome" realization in Rivne and Kherson oblasts

Lyubov Yevtushok, M.D.
Head of Rivne OMNI-Center

During several years OMNI-Net has concentrated its activities on diagnosis and prevention of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) as well as implementation of early intervention programs regarding children with developmental disabilities, in particular caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.

Thus, Rivne and Kherson oblasts take part at the pilot study of FAS prenatal ultrasound markers under the guidance of professors K. Jones, Ch. Chambers and A. Hull (University of California, San Diego, USA).

On September 24-25, 2006 the project leaders professors K. Jones and Ch. Chambers as well as professor C. Coles (Emory University School of Medicine and the Marcus Institute, Atlanta, Georgia, USA). During the visit preliminary project results were summed up. On September 25, 2006 Prof. K. Jones presented the pilot project results at the meeting with the project participants, physicians and psychologists from Rivne and Lutsk cities. As well, the meeting participants listened to the lecture of Prof. C. Coles "Measuring the Effects of Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol on Infant Development". Besides, the American guests visited Rivne Center of Early Intervention "Pahinets". They were greatly impressed by self-sacrificing activities of Pahinets specialists together with children parents.

From left to right: Profs. K. Jones, Ch. Chambers, C. Coles, Mrs. T. Savchuk (Pahinets Center Director), Dr. L. Yevtushok
From left to right: Profs. K. Jones, Ch. Chambers, C. Coles,
Mrs. T. Savchuk (Pahinets Center Director), Dr. L. Yevtushok

The main task of the pilot project is comparing physical and brain development by ultrasound examination of fetuses whose mothers are moderate and heavy drinkers of alcohol comparing with those who do not drink or drink very little.

The possibility of FAS prenatal identification would allow rendering timely help to women and children and using early intervention programs.

The preparatory stage was carried out in 2003-2005 under support of the Ukrainian-American Birth Defects Program and network of OMNI-Centers. Professors K. Jones and A. Hull conducted a series of trainings of specialists in Ukrainian oblasts and Kyiv. As well OMNI-Center specialists translated databases protocols into Ukrainian.

Pregnant women at the I-II trimesters of pregnancy were selected for the research.

The prenatal ultrasound protocols included additional measurements of brain structures. As well we made a videotape of each examination.

Soon after birth children were examined by specially trained neonatologists and/or medical geneticists according to the standard protocol. Pictures of children were made.

Discussing the FAS Pilot Project results
Discussing the FAS Pilot Project results

We had talks with the women who drank alcohol during their pregnancies to reduce possible risks of alcohol to affect their children. Besides each woman received printed materials and vitamin pills with preventive aims.

The data preliminary analysis showed an absence of statistically significant differences in both risk and control groups regarding biparietal, frontooccipital, transverse-cerebellar, and outer orbital diameters. But the size of frontothalamic diameter depending on gestational age was decreased in the risk group. These data allows admitting that specific measurements of frontal brain can be the early markers of alcohol damaging influence and can be used for early detection of alcohol effected children.

It is out of the question that the received results need further evaluation regarding the sensitivity and the specificity of those markers. This will contribute to the implementation of preventive initiatives because timely revealing of risk group pregnant women and their medical care will contribute to infant and maternal mortality and child disability decreasing as well as active involvement of children into the contemporary early intervention programs.

Date of report: September 26, 2006
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