What is FASD?
FASD is an umbrella term for the range of lifelong learning, behavioural and developmental disabilities which result from alcohol exposure during pregnancy.
Prenatal alcohol exposure effects how the brain’s neural connections are formed, and in some cases this results in irreversible brain damage and a variety of developmental disabilities.
For a child with FASD, this can mean having difficulty with speech and language, impairment of vision and hearing, and difficulty with judgment and reasoning. It can also lead to poor memory, poor impulse control and mental, social and developmental delays, as well as learning and behavioural difficulties.
In addition to these neurological symptoms, children born with FASD may also have physical impairments ranging from subtle facial anomalies to organ damage.
When the primary disabilities of FASD are undiagnosed or misunderstood, this can often lead to secondary disabilities such as mental health issues, alcohol and drug problems, disrupted school experiences and inappropriate sexual behaviours.
While the exact rates of prevalence are unknown, FASD are recognised as the leading preventable cause of non-genetic, developmental disability in Australia.
By spreading the word and encouraging all women to avoid alcohol during pregnancy, together we can make FASD history.
Want to know more about FASD? Pregnant Pause ambassador and paediatrician Professor Elizabeth Elliott has more.