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Children in remote communities affected by Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders at rates higher than previously reported

Date posted: 5 April 2016

A report yet to be publicly released, finds Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) affects 20% of children living in remote Aboriginal communities, according to The Australian. Although previous figures, based on research in Fitzroy Valley in Western Australia, have been quoted as at one in eight, this is now believed to be a conservative estimation. 

FASD is an umbrella term, used for a variety of conditions caused by fetal alcohol exposure as a result of women drinking during pregnancy. The diagnoses of FASD children can be based on physical, developmental or neurobehavioural characteristics, identified in their development.

Dr James Fitzpatrick, the lead author of the Fitzroy Valley research findings, has said that 'Children...in the remote communities in which I work have higher rates of anxiety and ­depression, higher rates of ­suicidal thoughts and a lot of ­people with FASD have drug and alcohol ­dependency problems...Cognitive impairment of any cause is linked to momentary lapses in impulse control...it creates lifelong brain damage that then becomes an issue for health, disability servic­es, education, child protection and the criminal justice system.'

NACCHO is currently in partnership with Menzies School of Health Research and the Telethon Kids Institute, with the shared objective of developing culturally appropriate health promotion resources, targeting the prevention of FASD. The resources have been created for the New directions: mothers and babies services (NDMBS) national program.

Source: NACCHO Communique

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Last updated: 2 September 2016
 
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Australia's National Research Centre on AOD Workforce Development National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre National Drug Research Institute