Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Model of Care
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the term used to describe the range of effects caused to a child by their mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy. For women who are pregnant or planning pregnancy, the best way to prevent FASD is not to drink alcohol. No amount of alcohol can be considered to be safe during pregnancy, however even if women have already consumed alcohol while they are pregnant, stopping their alcohol use will decrease the risks of FASD. For pregnant women with an alcohol dependency there is a significant risk to suddenly stopping alcohol use; they need expert supervision and support by medical practitioners. The WANDAS Clinic at King Edward Memorial Hospital provides support for pregnant women with an alcohol dependency. WA also has a 24 hour helpline for people wanting information and support for alcohol and drug related issues – 1800 190 024.
It is difficult to accurately determine the prevalence of FASD; however, FASD affects people from all social groups. FASD can only be diagnosed by a specialist medical practitioner. If you think your child may have a FASD then ask your GP or Child Health Nurse to refer your child to your local Child Development Service.
Assistance is available through a number of services and resources for women and their families who are concerned about alcohol and other substance use.
The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Model of Care was developed by a working group convened by the WA Child and Youth Health Network, which included representation from other government agencies, health services and research organisations and uses information from a range of stakeholders. It contains a series of recommendations to guide agencies across government and the non–government sectors to prevent, diagnose and treat FASD.
Several initiatives are already completed or underway at both the government and community level, which are consistent with the Model of Care. A steering group will be convened to look at what more could be done to further the prevention of FASD in light of the Model of Care. Providing information and raising community awareness are important means of preventing FASD.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Simon Towler said "It is vital that all agencies and groups work collaboratively to implement better strategies for FASD and we hope this Model of Care will drive future improvements in how we deal with the impact of alcohol use on pregnancy and women's health."