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JFAS Int 2006;4:e8 May 24, 2006
Identifying School Nurses' Knowledge of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Background
School nurses are among the first to know an adolescent is pregnant and are critical in identifying that a child's struggles in school may be related to their previous health history. Enhancing nurses' knowledge and skills in primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) should help population-based FAS prevention efforts.

Objectives
  1. Identify school nurses' general knowledge and perceived educational needs about FAS and,
  2. test the applicability for nurses of a national Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Knowledge Survey developed for physicians and adapted for other health professionals.

Methods
We conducted a pilot study. Findings were analyzed with descriptive statistics. Informal discussions with key leaders provided further suggestions for the survey.

Results
All nurses in this study knew that pregnant and potentially pregnant women should abstain from alcohol. A significant majority could identify the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on the child. They were less likely to know about binge drinking, FAS epidemiology, or facial dysmorphia. Over 70% requested more information on 13 FAS competencies identified in the survey. The instrument captured neither the range of activities school nurses could conduct to prevent and treat FAS nor the wide range of populations they serve.

Conclusions
This study identified three areas to target information for school nurses: binge drinking, FAS epidemiology, and facial dysmorphia. Before conducting a larger study, the instrument needs revision to accommodate school nurses' wide range of educational levels and responsibilities, and to include questions related to nursing interventions that support diagnosis and referral.

Key Words: fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, nursing interventions, secondary disabilities, fetal alcohol syndrome

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