Better treatment for conditions experienced by individuals who were exposed to alcohol before birth
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have published a comprehensive quality standard, which sets out how health and care services can improve the diagnosis, assessment and prevention of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are a group of conditions. These include Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, partial FAS, alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder, alcohol-related birth defects and neurobehavioral disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure (ND-PAE). These conditions can occur in individuals who were exposed to alcohol before birth.
Symptoms for FASD can include poor coordination, behavioural problems, small head size, low body weight, an abnormal appearance, short height, problems with the heart, kidney or bones, poor memory, learning difficulties and sight and hearing problems.
Although the condition is permanent, treatment can improve outcomes, with interventions including parent-child interaction therapy, medication and efforts to modify child behaviour.
“We know children and young people with FASD often have a poorer quality of life and must overcome some incredibly difficult challenges in their daily lives,” said Dr Paul Chrisp, director of NICE’s centre for guidelines. “This quality standard aims to improve the diagnosis and care offered to children and young people with FASD as well as ensuring that women are given consistent advice about their alcohol consumption during pregnancy.”
The quality standard highlights five key areas for improvement, including referring children and young people with probable prenatal alcohol exposure and symptoms for assessment, alongside providing a management plan to those with a FASD diagnosis to address their needs.
“Data on the number of children and young people in the UK with FASD is limited, with no single reliable source,” Dr Chrisp continued. “It’s important that we have clearly defined areas for improvement in place to reflect national priorities, promote best practice and help all those involved in delivering services to provide the very highest levels of care.”