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Feature Article

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder: a pervasive burden

Doug Shelton

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Abstract

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder that appears under­ diagnosed in Australia. It should be considered in all children with developmental delay or behaviour problems. A new Australian guide to diagnosis of FASD may help improve recognition and treatment of patients with FASD.

Key Points

  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a severe pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder that is often, but not always, accompanied by sentinel facial features.
  • Although FASD has a high prevalence in some Indigenous populations, it is estimated to affect six times as many non­Indigenous as Indigenous people in Australia.
  • A safe lower limit of alcohol use during pregnancy has not been established; the safest option for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy is not to drink alcohol.
  • Despite high alcohol consumption in Australia, health promotion about FASD has been scant, and FASD diagnostic and informed treatment services are few.
  • The recently published Australian guide to diagnosis of FASD may improve recognition and treatment of patients with FASD.

    Picture credit: © Barbara Pheby/Stock.adobe.com

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