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Doctors call for better training and support to prevent, diagnose and manage fetal alcohol syndrome
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9th February 2016
AUK Staff
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 ... the stark reality is that a large number of children are born every year in the UK with lifelong physical, behavioural and cognitive disabilities caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy
 Professor Sheila Hollins
In a revised BMA report, leading doctors’ call for better training and support to help healthcare professionals in the UK prevent, diagnose and manage fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and reduce the number of children affected each year.

Alcohol and Pregnancy: Preventing and managing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders highlights that despite FASD affecting between 2% and 5% of school-age children in Western Europe, there is still an unacceptable lack of support for those affected in the UK – with many going without diagnosis, or being misdiagnosed.
The report claims there needs to be an improved awareness of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in the medical profession and calls for:

  • Training programmes for healthcare professionals on the prevention, diagnosis and management of the range of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders should be implemented in the UK. 
  • Training on the prevention, diagnosis and management of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders to be integrated into undergraduate and postgraduate curricula and continued professional development. 
  • Healthcare professionals to be supported with the necessary time, resources and guidance to ensure they are able to provide advice and support to expectant mothers at every stage of pregnancy on the risks of maternal alcohol consumption, when clinically appropriate. 
  • Adequate time, resources, training and guidance to be provided for healthcare professionals involved in the provision of antenatal care so that screening for maternal alcohol consumption forms part of routine antenatal care in the NHS, and ensures that alcohol use among pregnant women is monitored and recorded appropriately. 
  • Healthcare professionals should be given sufficient time and resources to ensure that any woman who is pregnant or who is planning a pregnancy, and who has a suspected or confirmed history of alcohol consumptions at low-to-moderate level, is offered brief intervention counselling at the earliest stage possible and as part of routine antenatal care.
Professor Sheila Hollins, BMA board of science chair, said:

 Healthcare professionals have a duty to provide the best possible care and support for these children but they need the appropriate training, time and resources to do this
 Professor Sheila Hollins
“It has long been known that maternal alcohol consumption can have damaging effects on the fetus. Yet the stark reality is that a large number of children are born every year in the UK with lifelong physical, behavioural and cognitive disabilities caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

“There is still a scandalous lack of support for many of these children, who live and grow up with the impact of their impairments without the education, emotional and social support they require to fulfil their potential. Too often they go without diagnosis, or are misdiagnosed.

“Healthcare professionals have a duty to provide the best possible care and support for these children but they need the appropriate training, time and resources to do this".



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