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Call to combat Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder among Aboriginal Australians

Date posted: 24 August 2017

Rates of Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) among Aboriginal children are up to 12 times higher than a newly-determined universal average, with almost one in every 100 children worldwide living with the condition. These are the findings of new research published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

FASD is caused by consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.

'The findings highlight the need to establish a universal public health message about the potential harm of prenatal alcohol exposure and a routine screening protocol. Brief interventions should be provided, where appropriate,' the authors of the research conclude.

Several Australian studies were included, among them a 2015 examination of an Aboriginal Australian population which found 12 of every hundred children had the disorder.

One of every 13 women who consumed alcohol while pregnant was estimated to deliver a child with FASD, according to the analysis.

In previous research, 55of mothers reported drinking alcohol during pregnancy and of these, 87drank at high levels. All but two of the assessed children were Aboriginal from the Fitzroy Valley in Western Australia.

'These findings highlight the need for support for families, carers, and teachers to handle the behavioural and mental health problems in children with FASD,' said the study's lead author, Dr Tracey Tsang of the University of Sydney.

Sydney University's Professor Elizabeth Elliott said, in addition to difficult behaviours, children with FASD have learning, developmental and physical problems.

'FASD is preventable and we must educate young women about the harms of alcohol use in pregnancy,' Professor Elliott urged.

Source: SBS News

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Last updated: 24 August 2017
 
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Australia's National Research Centre on AOD Workforce Development National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre National Drug Research Institute