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Books, Journals, New Media
July 27, 2005

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;294(4):495-500. doi:10.1001/jama.294.4.498

A doctor is sued for not adequately warning a pregnant patient about the dangers of drinking. A bartender declines to serve a pregnant customer and is fired. Battered by her husband, a pregnant alcoholic seeks help at a hospital and finds herself under arrest for endangering the safety of her unborn child.

These are but a few of the intriguing moral and legal dilemmas examined in Janet Golden’s cleverly titled Message in a Bottle. Much more than a “biography of a diagnosis,” as she modestly terms it (p 9), this book delves deeply into the historical, political, legal, and social dimensions of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). In clear, lively prose, Golden traces the history of FAS and then explores its ramifications for health care policy, legal action, women’s issues, fetal rights, and controversies over alcohol use.

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