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Frequently Asked Questions

Information | Age Comparison Table | Developing Baby | Secondary Disabilities | FAQ's

Diagnosis vs. Labeling

One question we continually hear is "should we diagnosis an individual with an alcohol-related birth defect or does that just label the person unnecessarily?" Clearly there is a difference between "labeling" and "diagnosing."

Webster's defines label as: An object serving as a means of identification; a descriptive term. Diagnosis is defined as: The act or process of identifying or determining the nature of a disease by examination--a critical analysis.

The state believes that an accurate diagnosis of all medical conditions is critical to understanding the condition, the root cause of the condition, what type of services, interventions or treatment are needed to improve outcomes and to increase our knowledge and ability to develop strategies for prevention.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD) is a medical diagnosis of a permanent birth defect syndrome caused by maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. For those individuals with alcohol-related birth defects that do not meet the FASD diagnosis, there are a number of other specific diag- noses that provide a clear understanding of the condition and its cause. These are not labels, these are diagnoses. Accuracy in diagnosing disabili ties related to prenatal exposure to alcohol will provide us with the ability to improve our services, better understand the needs of the individual with these disabilities, accuracy in data about the extent of this problem in our state and to promote an active and focused effort to prevent the birth of children with disabilities related to maternal drinking during pregnancy. Accurate diagnosis is the critical core of our state's ongoing FASD efforts.

In the words of Dr. Ann Streissguth: "Diagnosis provides visibility, and visibility prompts solutions.

Posted Summer 2001