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FACE Roundtable Webcasts

15th Annual Fetal Alcohol Canadian Expertise (FACE) Research Roundtable

Tuesday, September 17, 2014, Toronto, Ontario

KEYNOTE ADDRESS - FASD - 40 Years Later Kenneth Lyons Jones, MD, Chief of the Division of Dysmorphology/Teratology at the Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego, California

Synopsis: Dr. Kenneth L. Jones was the lead author on the team in Seattle that 40 years ago identified the first cases of fetal damage by alcohol, and coined the term fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Dr. Jones, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California in San Diego (UCSD), describes the original breakthrough, the 40 years of continuous discovery, and the challenges of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder today.

FASD - State of the Art of Epigenetic Effects Shiva Singh, PhD, Professor, Department of Biology, Western University, London, Ontario

Synopsis: Even a single prenatal alcohol exposure may cause a lifelong disorder. Affected individuals endure variety of behavioural failures of variable severity. The underlying mechanism behind this relationship is not understood. Recent results however have begun to offer novel insights. They suggest that the observed abnormalities may be related to aberrant expression of pathway specific gene(s). Also, the aberrations in the gene expression may be initiated and maintained for life by alcohol's effect on DNA methylation, histone modification and miRNA expression.

Neuroplastic Effects of Self-regulation Therapy in Children with FASD Joanne Rovet, PhD, Professor, Psychology and Pediatrics; Senior Scientist, Neuroscience & Mental Health Program, SickKids, Toronto, Ontario

Synopsis: Dr. Rovet discusses the need for validated efficacious therapies to deal with the core deficits of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and shows how difficulties in executive function and emotion regulation represent core deficits in self-regulation. She introduces the 12-week Alert Program for Self-Regulation and shows limitations of past research using Alert in the FASD population. She also describes the approach at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) involving a randomized control design that compared behavioural and neuroanatomic changes in children with FASD who received Alert (n=18) versus children wait-listed for Alert on study completion (n=19) and typically developing control (TDC) children (n=20). Dr. Rovet highlights the behavioural areas showing greater improvement in the treated FASD group versus the other groups. Dr. Rovet also identifies brain regions showing the greatest structural and functional change following treatment and will show how regions critical for inhibitory control and emotion regulation functions change to the greatest degree in the Alert-treated group. Dr. Rovet then concludes by highlighting some of the relations between behavioural improvements and neuroplastic change in the sample.

Greetings from the Minister of Children and Youth Services Hon. Tracy MacCharles, MPP

Pathological Sharp Waves and Hyperexcitability in the Mouse Model of FASD Peter Carlen, MD, FRCPC and Michal Krawczyk, M.Sc., Research Analyst, Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto, Ontario

Synopsis: There is an increased prevalence of seizures in the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) population. However, to date, there exists limited information regarding the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms. The hippocampus is strongly implicated in FASD, and is able to generate population activities called sharp-waves, and emerging evidence suggests that dysregulation of sharp-waves leads to epileptiform activity. Dr. Carlen and Michal Krawczyk therefore set out to test the hypothesis that prenatal alcohol exposure may cause dysregulation of sharp-waves.

A Prospective Study of the Neurobehavioural Screening Tool (NST) in Clinical Settings Carmen Rasmussen, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta; Research Affiliate, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Edmonton, Alberta

Synopsis: Recent findings from a prospective study on the efficacy of the neurobehavioural screening tool (NST) in clinical settings will be reviewed. The NST was completed by caregivers of children referred to a hospital clinic for a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) assessment, those referred for neurobehavioral concerns to separate clinic, and community controls. Results on the sensitivity of the NST for identifying children with FASD and its specificity against other neurodevelopmental disorders are discussed.

Understanding Criminal Behaviour in FASD: Neurocognitive Deficits and Social Factors Jo Nanson, PhD, Adjunct Professor, University of Saskatchewan

Synopsis: Youth with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) are more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system than youth who are not alcohol exposed. This study compared 197 youth before the courts. Youth with FASD were more impaired than youth without FASD but their profiles were similar. There was no relationship between impairments and the number or type of charges generated. Greater home stability related to fewer charges, and youth with foster care experience were at risk for more charges. Substance use resulted in more charges, particularly in youth with an FASD.

Screening for FASD and Risky Drinking in Substance Abuse and Mental health Centres: A Canadian Pilot Study Katrina Kully-Martens, PhD Cand. University of Alberta

Synopsis: A Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) aimed to ultimately prevent further occurrences of fetal alcohol syndrome (FASD) was piloted in four mental health and substance abuse treatment agencies in Alberta. Through providing training related to screening for FASD and/or alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the TIP aimed to identify both women at risk of giving birth to a child with FASD and individuals who may have FASD themselves. This presentation will discuss program-level data related to the TIP's capacity to enhance effective screening and subsequent referrals, its feasibility, and its economic impact.

Beer Canada logo The 15th Anniversary Celebration and Annual Meeting of the FACE Research Network was sponsored by Beer Canada.

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