An $8.9 million grant from the National Institute of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is allowing NRI scientist Philip May, Ph.D., to examine the prevalence and characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the United States. May’s preliminary research shows that up to 1% of the population and up to 5% of children in the United States may suffer from cognitive and behavioral problems cause by prenatal exposure to alcohol.

This study continues May’s extensive research on individual nutrient risk factors related to alcoholism during pregnancy and how the mother’s drinking patterns and other factors may lead to different outcomes in children. The symptoms of FASD, typically evident late in childhood, make early diagnosis and tracking of the disorder difficult in infants and young children. Through this study, May is examining first graders across the United States to develop a method for earlier diagnosis.

At the NRI, May a leading expert in FASD, is working to fully define the disorder, helping to decrease the overall percentage of impacted children, and is identifying the nutritional risk factors that place mothers at risk for having a baby with FASD.