Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: A Science-Based Prevention Curriculum

Period of Performance: 06/01/2007 - 05/31/2008

$100K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Science Learning Resources, Inc.
Carrboro, NC 27510
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The long-term objective of the proposed work is to aid in preventing a major public health problem that is now referred to under the umbrella term, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). These disorders result from a woman drinking alcohol during her pregnancy and include both physical and mental birth defects. Although it is entirely preventable, maternal alcohol abuse is the leading known cause of mental retardation in the US. This application requests funding for Phase I development of a science-based high school health and science curriculum that addresses the consequences of alcohol use and abuse, with emphasis on FASD and its prevention. The development of this curriculum involves a collaboration between the University of North Carolina (UNC) and a small business, Science Learning Resources, Inc. (SLR) that is facilitated by an existing productive working relationship between the CEO at SLR and other key personnel for this proposal. The UNC- based PI is an expert in the field of basic FASD research and has previous experience with health and science curriculum development. SLR has expertise in the development and marketing of biology-related education materials. Development of the proposed curriculum, entitled " Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: An 'I' Toward Prevention ", will entail transfer of scientific knowledge and technology from UNC to SLR for incorporation into marketable education products. This represents a timely and important "research to practice" endeavor. For Phase I of this project, with the assistance of students and teacher focus groups, as well as a media and an evaluation expert, we propose to initiate development of key curricular materials that include an FASD information video, a virtual science laboratory experience, and student-driven FASD prevention activities. With the completion of our Phase I aims, we will be well-poised to successfully conduct Phase II development and evaluation that will lead to finalizing and distributing a much-needed education resource. Maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy can result in a spectrum of birth defects estimated to affect 40,000 babies each year in our country. Each of these birth defects is entirely preventable if a woman avoids drinking during pregnancy. Educational resources focused on prevention of alcohol-induced birth defects are limited. The proposed classroom curriculum will provide a much-needed, hands-on scientific exploration of alcohol's effects on a developing organism, targeted to high school students.