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Video transcript - Diagnosing FASD

Paediatrician Professor Elizabeth Elliott says:

“There is no typical child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.”

Paediatrician Dr James Fitzpatrick says:

“FASD is everybody’s business. FASD occurs in all sectors of our society.”

Professor Elizabeth Elliot says:

“Every child will have a different presentation because of the damage done in utero. The timing of the alcohol exposure, the amount, the duration of use.
But if you ask parents and teachers, perhaps the most common problem is behavioural problems.”

Dr James Fitzpatrick says:

“There’s a high risk group in the well to do. Those of us who have a tradition of drinking often, at harmful levels. This flows in to drinking in pregnancy. Particularly when we consider that 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, and often its some weeks before a pregnancy is recognised. So the general population of Australia are a high risk group. And in studies internationally it’s thought that between two and five of the general population may be affected by FASD.”

Professor Elizabeth Elliott says:

“The diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is quite difficult, and ideally it requires a multi-disciplinary team. Including an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist, a speech therapist, a psychologist and a paediatrician. So we assess three things. The first is exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. The second is neurodevelopmental impairment, and we look at a range of domains of function of the brain. And the third thing we look at is for physical features, including facial features that might be typical of alcohol exposure during development.”

Paediatrician Dr Doug Shelton says:

“We now know that about 80 percent of children with FASD don’t have the facial features. They have faces that look perfectly normal.”

Professor Elizabeth Elliot says:

“Health professionals are well trained to ask questions that are sensitive. But it’s important when asking about alcohol not to shame or blame the woman.”

Dr Doug Shelton says:

“The Australian Guide to the diagnosis of FASD was published in 2016 and that’s a fantastic guide for any child focused clinician to understand how to arrive at the diagnosis of FASD. So, for any clinician I would strongly advocate for them to develop a, a knowledge base on FASD and to get some face to face training. Because it is a complicated diagnosis, but its well within the skill set of any allied health professional, paediatrician, nurse and so on.”

Page last updated 14 May 2019