Gold Coast Health is home to one of only two Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) diagnostic clinics in Australia and the only one in Queensland.
Established in 2014, the team diagnosed more people during its first year than the previous decade and is committed to providing affected families with the knowledge and support they need.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a term used for a spectrum of conditions caused by fetal alcohol exposure. Each condition and its diagnosis is based on the presentation of characteristic features that are unique to the individual and may be physical, developmental and/or neurobehavioural.
The consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can cause damage to an unborn child, with the extent of harm dependent on the amount, frequency and timing of alcohol use during pregnancy and moderating factors such as maternal genetics, antenatal care, general health and environmental stress.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term, with people diagnosed across a spectrum from mild to severe. Characteristic features within the spectrum are rarely apparent at birth and may not be noticed until school age when behavioural and learning difficulties become an issue.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is at the severe end of the spectrum and is diagnosed when a child shows retarded growth, a specific pattern of minor facial anomalies and neurological damage.
Children who do not show all the features of FAS may receive a diagnosis of partial FAS, Fetal Alcohol Effects, Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder or Alcohol-Related Birth Defects. Many of these children have no physical characteristics of FAS but have significant underlying and chronic brain-based disabilities.
There is no cure but support for affected families is vital.
All persons with FASD have lifelong cognitive, social and behavioural conditions, which may include learning difficulties, impulsiveness, attention/hyperactivity, memory issues and developmental delays.
People with FASD often have difficulty relating actions to consequences and struggle with social relationships.