NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert :One in five kids in remote communities has FASD -Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

photoFASD

One in five kids in remote communities has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Picture: Croakey

“Children in remote communities are suffering from disabilities caused by their mothers drinking at a rate drama­tically higher than previously report­ed, with one in five affect­ed by fetal alcohol­ spectrum dis­orders, accordi­ng to a new report.

The published rate from the only Australian population study in Western Australia’s Fitzroy Valley­ is one in eight, but that was a conser­vative figure.”

Report in today Australian   SEE 2nd Story BELOW

13. New

“High rates of alcohol consumption have been reported in both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal population. Aboriginal women are more likely than non-Aboriginal women to consume alcohol in pregnancy at harmful levels. Australian research indicates that maternal alcohol use is a significant risk factor for stillbirths, infant mortality and intellectual disability in children, particularly in the Aboriginal population.”

Report in this weeks NACCHO Aboriginal Health News DOWNLOAD HERE

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an umbrella 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 which are unique to the individual and may be physical, developmental and/or neurobehavioral.

Health professionals asking and advising all women of child bearing age about the consequences of alcohol consumption in pregnancy is an essential strategy in preventing FASD.

Based on this evidence, NACCHO in partnership with Menzies School of Health Research and the Telethon Kids Institute have developed and implemented a flexible, modular package of FASD Prevention and Health Promotion Resources (FPHPR) to reduce the impacts of FASD on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. The package has been designed for the 85 New Directions: Mothers and Babies Services (NDMBS) across the country which are made up of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHO’s), State and Territory Government bodies and Primary Health Networks (PHN’s).

The package of resources is based on the model developed by the Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service (OVAHS) which includes FASD education modules targeting five key groups:

  • Pregnant women who are using NDMB antenatal services, and their partners and families;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of childbearing age;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander grandmothers;
  • NDMBS staff; and
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

To compliment the package of resources, 2 day capacity building workshops for NDMBS staff are currently being implemented across the country. The aim of the workshops is to enable health professionals to develop, implement and evaluate community driven strategies to reduce the impact of FASD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Addressing other health behaviours such as tobacco smoking and other drug use in pregnancy is also covered as part of the training. The interactive workshops focus on a broad range of skill development, ranging from community engagement strategies to one on one brief intervention and motivational interviewing techniques. Participants are also introduced to a range of screening tools to assess drinking alcohol, tobacco smoking and other drug use in pregnancy and how to use them effectively. The importance of data collection, continuous quality improvement (CQI) and monitoring and evaluation is also covered.

FASD

The first workshop was recently held in Darwin with great success. Participants gained valuable knowledge on the issue of FASD and the importance of developing practical, whole of community approaches to prevent it. The project team will now move to Queensland in April to deliver the second workshop followed by other States and Territories across the country.

For further information about the FASD Prevention and Health Promotion Resources Project please contact Bridie Kenna on (02) 6246 9310 or bridie.kenna@naccho.org.au

Mums’ excessive drinking linked to suicides in remote communities

NACCHO Note : this was the Australians headline

Children in remote communities are suffering from disabilities caused by their mothers drinking at a rate drama­tically higher than previously report­ed, with one in five affect­ed by fetal alcohol­ spectrum dis­orders, accordi­ng to a new report.

The published rate from the only Australian population study in Western Australia’s Fitzroy Valley­ is one in eight, but that was a conser­vative figure.”

In a report to the $22 billion ­National Disability Insurance Scheme agency, its authors say the real figure is 20 per cent.

James Fitz­patrick, the lead author­ of that study, says the collection of disorders — character­ised by the loss of decisio­n-making abilities and impuls­e control — are one of the most critical, preventable public health challenges and “absolute­ly” linked to a suicide epidemic that has ravaged far-flung communities.

“Children … in the remote communities in which I work have higher rates of anxiety and ­depression, higher rates of ­suicidal thoughts and a lot of ­people with FASD have drug and alcohol ­dependency problems,” Dr Fitzpatrick told The Australian. “This is the perfect storm for somebody to take their own life. Cognitive impairment of any cause is linked to momentary lapses in impulse control after a seemingly innocuous ­immediate insult. This is preventable, the result­ of social malaise and our destruct­ive relationship with ­alco­hol. It creates lifelong brain damage that then becomes an issue for health, disability servic­es, education, child protection and the criminal justice system.”

FASD is a spectrum of neuro-cognitive disorders caused by exposur­e to alcohol in the womb.

A diagnosis is made when three or more “structural or functional” brain domains — including memory, cognition and learning, ­behaviour, speech and language, and executive functions — are knocked out. For decades, little was known about it and the prevalence in Australia was hidden, a fact that prompted the NDIS agency to ask experts whether the impairmen­t should be considered a disability and whether it ­responded to ­treatment.

The answers, detailed in a ­report handed to the agency late last year but not publicly released, are: yes and yes.

Dr Fitzpatrick said FASD bore a resemblance to autism­, another con­dition with which the NDIS has been grappling, in that if it could be treated early with intensive therapy, severe longer-term problems could be ameliorated or avoided.

The report handed to the NDIS agency says “intensive, individu­alised behavioural treatment to improve cognitive skills” — the best of which cost about $50,000 a year per person — are “likely to be useful in FASD interventi­ons”.

“Some of the hallmarks of FASD are severe attention and behavioural problems, the maj­ority of those with FASD also have a diagnosis of ADHD,” Dr Fitzpatrick said. “The group of skills known as executive functions, they affect the brain’s ability to co-ordinate cognitive functions. Without (these) it is like trying to navigate your way around Melbourne with a map of Sydney.”

As they grow, children with the condition have a greater tendency to get caught up in crime, unable to factor in the consequences of their behaviour.

 

One comment on “NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert :One in five kids in remote communities has FASD -Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

  1. Pingback: #FASD News alert: Northern Territory urged to act on foetal alcohol spectrum disorder – AADANT

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