Murkowski, Klobuchar Reintroduce Bill to Prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders While Supporting Individuals Living with FASD

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) today reintroduced the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Respect Act of 2023, legislation which reauthorizes programs and funding to aid individuals and families impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

“We must do everything we can to educate on prenatal alcohol exposure and prevent FASD. Too many families in Alaska are impacted by FASD and lack support and interventions services that could truly make a difference in their daily lives,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “Senator Klobuchar and I are reintroducing this bill in hopes of preventing long-term impacts on children and their families. Every child deserves the best chance possible at a healthy future.”

“Prenatal exposure to alcohol and other substances can have a devastating impact,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “We must ensure communities have resources to identify and support struggling children and families and increase awareness about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders to help prevent and treat it. This legislation promoting evidence-based services and interventions will do just that." 

“The Alaska Center for FASD provides statewide referral and support for individuals, families, caregivers, and professionals impacted by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and whole-heartedly supports the elements of the FASD Respect Act. This Act is an important initiative that seeks to address the significant and lasting harm caused by prenatal alcohol exposure and other substance misuse. By advocating for a coordinated response to preserve the health and well-being of our nation's children and families, it holds great potential to protect future generations and strengthen our society,” said the Alaska Center for FASD Board. 

“The Alaska Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Partnership, a statewide coalition of self-advocates, family members, service providers, and community members, supports all the provisions of the FASD Respect Act for improving lives and increasing access to supports, services, and lifelong interventions for Alaskans impacted by prenatal alcohol exposure,” said members of the Alaska Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Partnership.   

“I first became aware of FASD over 2 ½ decades ago while serving as Minnesota's First Lady and a Juvenile Court judicial officer.  Many youths from families with long substance use histories were failing and not responding to traditional interventions.   It became clear then and is still true today that our systems of care are failing this population by not recognizing and/or understanding their FASD complex needs,” said Susan Shepard Carlson, FASD United Board Chair. “As a country, we can and should do so much better for those with an FASD and their families. The FASD Respect Act will begin to bring much needed focus and resources to systemically address this huge societal problem. The FASD community thanks the Senate and House sponsors for leading the charge to enact this much needed bipartisan FASD legislation.”

“Thanks to the determined efforts of Senators Murkowski and Klobuchar we have a bill that balances ongoing research and public health with vital, overdue direct assistance benefiting children and adults living with FASD. A bill that all lawmakers can support and one that respects and ranks first the needs of a grateful and deserving FASD community,” said Tom Donaldson, CEO of FASD United. 

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS), Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND), Neurobehavioral Disorders Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE), and related conditions. FASD is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE), an enduring public health issue throughout the United States. A recent prevalence study identified as many as 1 in 20 first graders across the country impacted by FASD. There is no cure for FASD, but research shows that FASD-specific early intervention services can improve developmental outcomes. PAE is the leading known cause of developmental disabilities, and those with FASD may face many social, cognitive, and emotional challenges throughout their lifespan. 

There is a critical need for a comprehensive approach to addressing FASD. The FASD Respect Act calls for a prompt, coordinated response to PAE, and all prenatal substance exposures, to preserve the health and well-being of our nation’s children and families.

The FASD Respect Act of 2023 is cosponsored by Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Jerry Moran (R-KS). 

The FASD Respect Act of 2023:

  • Reauthorizes federal FASD programs by directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish or continue a comprehensive FASD prevention, identification, intervention, and services delivery program which may include:
    • Educational and public awareness programs targeting professionals in systems of care
    • Research on FASD as appropriate
    • Building State and Tribal capacity for the identification, treatment, and support of individuals with FASD and their families
  • Establishes Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Centers for Excellence to build local, Tribal, State, and national capacities to prevent the occurrence of FASD and other related adverse conditions, and to respond to the needs of individuals with FASD and their families.

Programs include:

  • Initiating or expanding diagnostic capacity
  • Developing and supporting public awareness and outreach activities
  • Acting as a clearinghouse for evidence-based resources on FASD prevention, identification, and culturally aware best practices
  • Disseminating ongoing research and developing resources on FASD to help inform systems of care for individuals with FASD across their lifespan.
  • Increasing awareness and understanding of efficacious, evidence-based FASD screening tools and culturally- and linguistically appropriate evidence-based intervention services and best practices across systems of care
  • Improving capacity for State, Tribal, and local affiliates dedicated to FASD awareness, prevention, and identification and family and individual support programs and services (technical assistance provided by FASD Center of Excellence).