South Korea Site Visit Explores Potential Collaboration for FASD Researchers
NIAAA Acting Director Dr. Ken Warren was among a team of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) researchers who completed an exploratory site visit to Seoul, South Korea, to lay the groundwork for adding Korea as a site for the NIAAA-funded Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD).
Accompanying Dr. Warren were Dr. Peggy Murray, NIAAA Senior Advisor for International Research; Dr. Edward Riley, San Diego State University; and Drs. Christine Chambers and Kenneth Lyons Jones of the University of California, San Diego.
Reports on women’s drinking in South Korea have led experts to believe there was a possibility of high rates of FASD. The preliminary research on alcohol consumption among pregnant women in South Korea was led by Dr. So Hee Lee of the Department of Psychiatry, National Medical Center in Seoul, and was recently published in Psychiatry Investigations, 2010. She has recently completed a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Dr. Riley.
The team visited a total of eight sites, including residential homes for children with mental retardation, special education centers, and orphanages. Dr. Jones trained a group of Korean pediatricians and psychiatrists on the diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and FASD during the visits. A number of children were identified as having FAS, and a greater number had fewer symptoms but enough to defer for further assessment for partial FAS or other FASD diagnoses.
The trip ended with a workshop for research on FASD, sponsored by the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and St. Mary’s Hospital of the Catholic University of Seoul. Dr. Hae Kook Lee, who had just completed a fellowship with NIAAA, organized the site visit and symposium and will lead the FASD research collaboration with CIFASD in South Korea. Drs. Warren and Murray also visited the Korean Alcohol Research Foundation in Seoul and met with its clinical director as well as senior staff in prevention and rehabilitation programs.