It is very difficult to estimate the prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder among Australian children.
This is partly due to fact that the manifestation of the disorder can be very varied and often subtle, and partly due to the fact that very few women will give a history of drinking alcohol in pregnancy.
But the experts say, if we consider that at least 20% of Australians drink at risky levels and up to half of all pregnancies are unplanned, you’ve got to suspect there’s quite a large cohort of affected children out there, many of whom may be yet to be diagnosed.
So … you might want to check out this resource – a Toolkit for parents, caregivers and families of children with this condition – put out by the NOFASD (National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders).
While ostensibly written for a lay audience, this toolkit has a wealth of information that would be of use for the practising GP, including a neat checklist of possible symptoms and signs that can help support the diagnosis.
In addition, the Toolkit provides valuable information about how children affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder can be best supported and which resources are available for them to access. This is particularly significant as, according to the Toolkit authors, there has previously been a sense that diagnosis of the condition has little value as there is no treatment available. The people at NOFASD however say this is not the case and early diagnosis and intervention can go a long way to achieving better health and indeed life outcomes for these children.
>> Access the resource here