Ira J. Chasnoff, M.D., an award-winning author, researcher and lecturer, is president of NTI Upstream and a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. He is one of the nation's leading researchers in the field of child development and the effects of maternal alcohol and drug use on the newborn infant and child. His research projects include a study of the long-term cognitive, behavioral and educational developmental effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs; strategies for screening pregnant women for substance use; the effects on birth outcome of prenatal treatment and counseling for pregnant drug abusers; the effectiveness of both outpatient and residential treatment programs for pregnant drug abusers; and innovative treatment approaches for children affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol or illicit drugs. Dr. Chasnoff led the development and operation of a laboratory preschool classroom to develop specific interventions for children prenatally exposed to alcohol and other drugs and developed a model Head Start Family Service Center for children and their families at risk from drugs and the drug-seeking environment. In addition, Dr. Chasnoff directed one of five national sites conducting research into the integration of behavioral health interventions into primary health care services for high-risk children and their families, and through this project studied the impact of concurrent planning on permanency placement for children in the foster care system. Since 2002, Dr. Chasnoff has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading one of four national centers for research into innovative treatment for children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Dr. Chasnoff’s most recent work focuses on community approaches to the integration of behavioral health services into primary health care for women and children and the occurrence of co-occurring mental health disorders in children who have been exposed to alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine, and other drugs. As an extension of these efforts, Dr. Chasnoff is working with communities and States to develop integrated systems of prevention and care for children and families in the child welfare system affected by substance abuse. In addition, Dr. Chasnoff has served as the Chair of the National Medical Task Force on Methamphetamine, Children, and Families for the Congressionally authorized National Alliance on Model State Drug Laws and served as the Chair of the State Task Force on FASD for the State of Illinois. In November 2008, Dr. Chasnoff was appointed to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Interagency Coordinating Council on FASD, the federal committee tasked with the coordination of national efforts to address prenatal alcohol exposure and its health and fiscal impact on the U.S. population. Through this work, Dr. Chasnoff is part of the national effort to define the neurodevelopmental profile of children across the fetal alcohol spectrum.
Dr. Chasnoff received his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, which in 1991 awarded him its first Distinguished Alumnus Award. He is the author of numerous articles on the effects of alcohol and other drug use on pregnancy and on the long-term cognitive, behavioral, and learning outcomes of prenatally exposed children. Dr. Chasnoff’s research article on racial and social class bias in the health care system has been cited as a landmark study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dr. Chasnoff has authored seven books, one of which, Drugs, Alcohol, Pregnancy, and Parenting, received the Book of the Year Award from the American Journal of Nursing. Power Beyond Measure provides a strategy of systems integration for communities and states seeking to develop a unified system of care for high-risk children and their families. Dr. Chasnoff’s book on international adoption, Risk and Promise, is a unique source of information for prospective adoptive families that has been recognized as a source for The Hague International Court accreditation for families adopting internationally. Dr. Chasnoff’s most recent book, The Mystery of Risk, has received numerous awards. It explores the biological and environmental factors that impact the ultimate development of alcohol- and drug-exposed children and presents practical strategies for helping children reach their full potential at home and in the classroom.
Dr. Chasnoff is a regular contributor to Psychology Today, writing about high-risk children and their families. The recipient of several awards for his work with women, children, and families, Dr. Chasnoff for several years has been selected by a poll of physicians across the nation for listing in America’s Best Doctors, cited for his ability to translate complex medical and psychosocial issues into relevant policy that guides the delivery of quality services. Dr. Chasnoff has been active in establishing comprehensive family intervention programs for children in Australia, Denmark, Portugal, Vietnam, the former Soviet Union, and across the United States and has lectured on this topic around the world.