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Responding to fetal alcohol impacts in children

Date posted: 5 July 2017

Children with Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) are more likely to face barriers at school, have attention problems and talk openly about suicidal thoughts, according to their teachers. That was the verdict handed down in a study conducted by the University of Sydney in New South Wales.

Reported in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, the findings also reveal a range of behavioural and academic problems based on surveys of parents and teachers of primary school Aboriginal Australian children, living in remote communities in Fitzroy Valley, Western Australia.

Within the Fitzroy Valley study population, more than 50% of mothers reported drinking alcohol during pregnancy, and more than 80% of these mothers drank high levels of alcohol. All but two of the assessed children were Aboriginal.

Researchers noted three main kinds of behavioural problems in children with FASD:

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

'We are working with Aboriginal communities in the Fitzroy Valley to increase awareness of alcohol harms, and support community-led alcohol restrictions, education, and family support,' said Emily Carter, Chief Executive Officer of Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre, which played a crucial part in the study.

The study was initiated by Aboriginal community leaders concerned about the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure on children’s behaviour, learning and development, and the ability of Aboriginal children to retain societal protocols and culture including language, stories, ceremonies, and art.

Source: The University of Sydney


Last updated: 5 July 2017
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Australia's National Research Centre on AOD Workforce Development National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre National Drug Research Institute