More can be done to tackle Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), leading specialists and the FASD Trust have said.
A new guidance document published today (Tuesday 19 February) sets out a number of proposals designed to make the identification and treatment of FASD easier for health professionals. One of the major recommendations put forward by the report is a new care pathway across disciplines and professions – including obstetrics, gynaecology, midwifery, paediatrics and psychiatry – to either ensure the condition is followed up or ruled out by a number of health professionals.
It is hoped that by taking a multi-disciplinary approach to diagnosis and treatment, this could also raise awareness of the condition with social workers, those in the education system and voluntary organisations.
Other key themes highlighted by the report, called Consensus Statement Regarding the Recognition and Diagnosis of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Across the Lifespan in the UK: Development of Proposed UK Clinical Pathways, include:
- The need for early diagnosis
- Correct diagnosis
- Improving information collection and sharing between agencies
- The abolition of the postcode lottery that currently affects services.
Julia Brown, chief executive of the FASD Trust, said: “The FASD Trust is particularly pleased that this document has been produced by a collaboration of nearly 70 medics, from all disciplines and from across the UK, making this a response to FASD based on internationally agreed protocols but fitting within our NHS structures.
“By introducing a whole systems approach to FASD, we hope that this document will further improve the quality and consistency of medical care offered to those affected by the condition in the UK.
“We also hope it will enable women to finally have clear and unambiguous advice for all mums-to-be around the potential risks of drinking during pregnancy.”
An estimated 8,000 babies are born each year with FASD in the UK, according to Dr Raja Mukherjee, consultant psychiatrist at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust and lead for the UK’s only FASD clinic.