NOFASD Australia Issue #8, April 2014

Dear Members & Supporters,
Below are our key areas covered to keep you in The Loop,
This month in "The Loop"
For the week of the 24th March, Lorian Hayes, Adelle Rist and Vicki Russell delivered education workshops in the New England region of NSW.  Educators, mental health workers, other professionals and interested community members attended one of five workshops offered in Tamworth, Taree and Armidale.  Over 150 people attended and the feedback was positive with some interested in further training for specific groups.
Our gratitude is extended to those who supported and organised the events, and a special thanks to Joe Miller who transported us from venue to venue and, with Kim, welcomed us with their hospitality.

NOFASD Australia was also represented by Adelle, our new National Educator, at the North West Regional National Youth Week event held in Ulverstone, Tasmania, on Wednesday 9th April.  Our role at the event was to provide information, offer support, and inform young people, with the potential to make a significant impact on their health and wellbeing, and to make better, informed choices.  The event was quite successful with a large turnout, and NOFASD Australia hopes to be further involved in this and similar events in the future.

We note with pleasure that the overall statistics of our recent Facebook post regarding NOFASD Australia's contribution at the National Youth Week event showed that the reach of this particular post was over 360 people (our average is 75 people per post), it was 'Liked' by 13 people, and shared by 3.  This, to us, demonstrates that our followers find stories of NOFASD Australia's direct involvement within our communities of greater interest than simply sharing stories and resources.  Whilst we will continue to share such articles, we will making further efforts in the future to communicate our participation within our community, and NOFASD Australia thanks you for your continued support and feedback.

You can find NOFASD Australia on Facebook and Twitter [@NOFASDAustralia] - we encourage you to follow us there, as well as sharing the NOFASD Community newsletter with your family and friends.

Until next time,

Terri Baran
Administration Officer 
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From My Desk...
You may have noticed the issue of alcohol use in pregnancy was spotlighted by the media last week. It began with a letter published in the Medical Journal of Australia “(Med J Aust 2014; 200 (7): 391-392) in which the Australian guidelines for alcohol use in pregnancy was criticised in respect to low-risk drinking.  The obstetric drug information consultant expressed concern that some women “fearing they had harmed their unborn baby, might even consider an unnecessary termination.”  One source Bagatol cited was a 2013 UK study by Kelly, Iacovou, Quigley et al (2013)1 on light drinking and behavioural and cognitive outcomes in 7-year-old children. 

Sometimes in research papers there is other information which is as interesting for some readers as the focus of the research. In the UK study there is a statement about the sample group which notes about 90% “usually drank alcohol, and around one-third reported drinking during pregnancy.” In number terms, of the 13,192 families in the UK study, 1,665 were classified non-drinkers and 943 drank at moderate to heavy drinking during pregnancy. This means almost 80% of family participants identified as either (a) usual drinkers who were choosing to not use alcohol in pregnancy or (b) had consumed alcohol in pregnancy.  The paper does explain the limitation but does not define the percentage of each group. I will leave it to you to read this paper and draw your own conclusions.  

There is a big question for me about the reasons naysayers continue to refute the evidence of low-level alcohol use and harm to the developing fetus and I think is has much to do with a ‘naysayer’ society which brushes aside percentage rates of more than 90 per cent of families where alcohol was usually consumed. Perhaps we could argue that we have a bigger problem than FASD to consider and that perhaps contemplating the potential prevalence of FASD is too challenging. This issue is the absolute downstream devastation of our society’s ‘love of alcohol’.  I can only report on the disclosures by parents who contact NOFASD Australia. Frequently distressed, worried and confused, their pregnancy has been confirmed and with this news comes the realization that they have used alcohol. What I have never heard is a parent mentioning a termination of their pregnancy as an option. What I do hear are personal stories who have planned pregnancy and are aware of the risks of alcohol on healthy fetal development but are still drinking during this time.  This suggests that information is not enough; we have to change attitude and behaviour. 

The obstetric drug information consultant recommends Australia adopt peak overseas health advisory groups concerns “about the potential for unwarranted terminations being contemplated by women following low-level alcohol use in pregnancy” and that “the time is overdue for the NHMRC to provide a similar statement to provide greater reassurance to women who have consumed low levels of alcohol during pregnancy.” Kelly, Iacovou, Quigley et al (2013) propose that it did not seem “biologically plausible that exposure to small amounts of alcohol in utero would have deleterious effects on subsequent development” yet also document the absence of clarity “on what is the level for drinking safely and how this level might be affected by individual susceptibility.” Further, the authors conclude “it may be that the safest option for pregnant women is to avoid drinking during their pregnancies.” And so, we continue to circle around the issue. 

What I think we need is reduced attention to the least amount of alcohol to cause fetal harm and greater attention to the personal knowledge of the impact of alcohol in our communities and then we might accept the vulnerability of the fetus to alcohol exposure. 

As always, let me know your thoughts. You can also read this article “Alcohol in pregnancy: why experts say no”.

Vicki Russell,
CEO, NOFASD Australia

1 Kelly Y, Iacavou M, Quigley MA, Gray R, Wolke D, Kelly J and Sacker A; “Light drinking versus abstinence in pregnancy – behavioural and cognitive outcomes in 7-year-old children: a longitudinal cohort study.” BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology Volume 120, Issue 11, pages 1340–1347, October 2013

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Of Special Interest

Of particular interest to our readers this month are two inquiries into FASD and its prevalence in areas of Australia, specifically the Northern Territory.

The first is a select committee for FASD being established to examine the nature and extent of FASD.  It is proposed that the Committee inquire into and report on the prevalence of FASD in the Northern Territory, the nature of the injuries and effects of FASD on its sufferers, and actions the Government may take to protect the unborn child.    
Minister for Children and Families John Elferink states that, “We know that FASD has debilitating effects on the individual and the community, however we must gain a greater understanding of its extent.”
The Committee will comprise of three Government members, two Opposition members and an Independent member.  The Committee is expected to report at the end of the year.  

The second inquiry is into alcoholism in Aboriginal communities.  After hearings in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs was in Darwin conducting its inquiry into the harmful use of alcohol within indigenous communities, where feedback is, according to Chairwoman Sharman Stone, that the situation is dire.
Homelessness and housing pressures are a key factor in explaining why indigenous people drink to excess, the inquiry heard on Wednesday [2nd April 2014].
Young disadvantaged women who drink during pregnancy are having babies with FAS, and this inquiry is looking at its prevalence and whether it should be declared a disability.
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National News and Media
Pharmacist Rob Batagol calls for drinking mothers to be reassured
Australia’s top health research authority should be reassuring women who have been light social drinkers during pregnancy amid concern that some will consider terminations due to unwarranted fears for their babies’ health, a leading pharmacist says.  Read more...  

Call for clearer advice on drinking alcohol during pregnancy
Women with alcohol dependency are not getting the help they need during pregnancy to protect their unborn babies, drug and alcohol researchers warn.  But at the same time there is a call for women who have drunk low levels of alcohol early in pregnancy to be given reassurance to stop unnecessary anxiety or contemplation of abortion.  Read more...  

Funding blow for sobriety program
A successful project in Tennant Creek educating the community on the danger of drinking alcohol while pregnant has been stripped of government funding.  The Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation’s two-year grant to run their Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) project dried up on December 31st and since then, the clinic had been continuing the service at its own expense.  Read more...

Protecting unborn babies from alcohol-related harm
The remote Fitzroy Valley in the Kimberly region is home to about 4,500 Aboriginal people who are spread across 45 communities.  As in many disadvantaged communities around the world, alcohol abuse was common half a decade ago.  The high consumption of alcohol resulted in high numbers of alcohol-related deaths and suicides, and widespread violence and crime.  The most disturbing effect, however, was the impact on future generations.  Read more...

Juveniles to participate in WA research
Children at Western Australia’s sole juvenile detention centre will participate in a study to determine if they have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).  Researchers are developing a FASD screening test to be used on 200 youths, aged between 10 and 17, with the permission of their guardians and assistance from the Department of Corrective Services.  Read more...

Screening to ensure justice for fetal alcohol disorder kids
Some of the boys and girls aged from 10 to 17 who end up at the State’s only juvenile detention centre at Banksia Hill may have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) – and researchers have been awarded to grant to find out.  Winthrop Research Professor Carol Bower of The University of Western Australia’s Centre for Child Health Research at the Telethon Kids Institute is leading a team who are about to develop a FASD screening test, thanks to a National Health and Medical Research Council grant of almost $1.5 million.   Read more…

Alcohol in pregnancy: why experts say no
It’s been five years since Australian drinking guidelines changed to advice women to avoid alcohol altogether when pregnant or trying for a baby.  Yet a significant number of women continue to drink during pregnancy and confusion about this issue remains high.   Read more…

Lack of support for alcohol-dependent pregnant women
There’s fresh evidence this morning about the effects of women drinking alcohol while pregnant.  While overall fewer Australian women are drinking while they’re pregnant, the proportion of pregnant women drinking at high levels hasn’t changed.  Read more… 

Latest Webinar from NDIS: Women, Disability, the NDIS and the Broader Community – 20th March 2014
Following the theme of ‘Inspiring Change’ for International Women’s Day 2014, the National Disability Insurance Agency held its fourth webinar on 20 March 2014 on the theme “Women, Disability, the NDIS and the Broader Community”.  NDIA ACT Director Judith Davis-Lee facilitated an all-female panel who shared their insights and answered questions on the topic from the online audience.  Read more...

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FASD & Child Welfare [Canada]
The Caregiver Curriculum on FASD 2014 is online.  The Curriculum has a range of topics on FASD that have been set up as self study modules for foster parents, families and caregivers.  This new resource was created through the Tri-Province Study on FASD in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.  Click the "Learning" tab at the top of the main page to see the full curriculum.  Read more...

Alcohol, other drugs and pregnancy booklets
The Australian Drug Foundation advises that its “Alcohol, Other Drugs and Pregnancy” booklet is back in stock.  Available in bundles of 10 for $30.  Read more…  

‘DrinkSmart’ App
The DrinkSmart app aims to help people track and cut back on their alcohol intake.  Its drinking diary helps users track their drinking, the amount of money they’re spending and the amount of calories consumed from alcohol.  It features a ‘DrinkBuddy’ who sends reminders and tips on how to stay on track.  Read more…

Spectrum Journeys Inc.
The Spectrum Journeys Inc. contains various useful resources for children on the Autism Spectrum, which would also be beneficial for those living with FASD, including reward charts, routine charts for morning and bedtime, posters such as ‘How to Share’ and ‘Going to the Toilet’, and visual timetables.  Read more... 

Alcohol and Pregnancy:  It’s Just Not Worth The Risk
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently released a short video (approx. 2.5mins) explaining why there is no type of alcohol and no amount of alcohol deemed safe during pregnancy.  A great video for a quick brief as to the importance of abstaining from alcohol consumption in pregnancy.   Watch the video...

NOFAS – Tools for Parents and Caregivers
NOFAS USA has recently published tips to help make daily life easier for parents and caregivers of children, youths and adults living with FASDs.  These practical interventions may help to ease any concerns that arise with each stage of life and the new challenges they present.  Read more... 

8 Reasons for FASD Meltdowns
In an effort to reframe her understanding of meltdowns, Savanna Pietrantonio has had to look deeper into the meaningful gifts of the meltdown and to changing her fear and shame into acceptance that they are always going to be her body’s way of communicating with her.  Read more...
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International News and Media

Expert: Health care bills for children with FASD are 9 times higher than other kids (USA)
No one knows exactly how many Alaskans have fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.  The disability is tough and time-consuming to diagnose, and symptoms may take years to surface.  What we do know is that no matter how many children, teens and young adults have FAS, researchers are finding time and again that the cost of preventing one person from being born with the disability is far less than treating a lifetime of health and behaviour troubles.   Read more...

Alcohol & Me: ‘I feel blessed and very thankful that I’m here’ (USA)
Like many teens, Devon Hilts was anxious about moving out on her own and starting college after her high school graduation in Seldovia. What she overcame was less commonplace.  Read more... 

Criminal Code must recognise FASD: Yukon MP (Canada)
Yukon MP Ryan Leef is calling for amendments to the Criminal Code to help people living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  Leef introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Commons on Tuesday [1st April 2014].  Read more…  

OPINION:  With crime bills, facts matter (Canada)
Mr [Ryan] Leef introduced Bill C-583 in March.  He thinks an offender who has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder should receive special consideration from the court.  His bill would compel the court to consider FASD as a mitigating factor in sentencing.  Read more...

Alberta hopes forcing bars, restaurants, stores to put up signs will reduce FASD (Canada)
The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission says businesses must help raise awareness that pregnant women should not drink alcohol.  The Public Health Agency of Canada says the disorder is the leading known cause of preventable developmental disability.  Read more… 
More on this topic – read here and here

New ‘toolkit’ for health professionals launched at Letterkenny General Hospital (Ireland)
A new project aimed at increasing awareness of the health benefits to pregnant mums and unborn children of ceasing alcohol consumption entirely during pregnancy has been takin place in the antenatal clinic of Consultant Obstetrician Dr Nandini Ravikumar at Letterkenny General Hospital.   As part of the project, the hospital launched a ‘toolkit’ for health professionals: ‘Prescription for a Healthy Pregnancy’.  Read more...

A special calling: family, teachers talk special education struggles and successes (USA)
Special education teachers go to work every day expecting to be hit, punched and kicked.  The bond between special needs students and their teachers is therefore very important.  Ashley Taylor was adopted when she was 2 by Jennifer and David Taylor.   She was diagnosed with FAS at age 5.  The program established by her school district has demonstrated amazing results in Ashley’s behaviour and development.   Read more...

Focus group to form for ‘My Baby’s Breath’ project (USA)
A focus group of pregnant and other at-risk girls is being formed to weigh in on a new prevention strategy for prenatal exposure to alcohol.  The idea of ‘My Baby’s Breath’ was first unveiled in late January.  Headed by Healthy Brains for Children, it’s a group that is focused on ending the prenatal exposure to alcohol, openly discussing the idea of ‘My Baby’s Breath’, weighing in on what they think about the program and what could be changed.  Read more...

“Conflicting advice” leading to thousands of Irish women drinking alcohol while pregnant (Ireland)
A new campaign is warning women of the damage that drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause to unborn children.  Studies have revealed that between 60 and 80 percent of Irish women said they drank at some point during their pregnancy.  Working with charity Alcohol Action Ireland, the three largest maternity hospitals aim to highlight the risks of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).  Read more...

Alcohol, pregnancy a risky mix (USA)
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is difficult to talk about because children with this medical condition are born with a form of brain damage that affects them for life because their mother drank, often before she even knew she was pregnant.  If women engage in binge drinking during the first three months of a pregnancy, the alcohol could do serious damage to the brain of their unborn child.   Read more...

Highlighting the Use of Massage for Children Affected by FASD (USA)
Growth and developmental issues are key to the diagnosis of FAS, and in research studies of pediatric and infant massage therapy, it has been demonstrated to assits in both.  For infants born prematurely, the use of massage has demonstrated a measureable increase in weight for the infants who received the therapeutic intervention.  Additionally, when followed to an infant’s one year birthday, researchers found that the massaged infants had a weight advantage, as well as, placing 12 to 15 points higher on the mental and motor tests of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development.  Read more... 

What you don’t know about drinking and pregnancy: Four mothers tell their stories (USA)
Nearly half of Alaska women who become pregnant did not plan to have a baby.  Many women don’t know that even moderate drinking can do irreversible damage to a child from conception to birth, beginning well before they realise they are pregnant.  This is the story of what happens to babies exposed to alcohol during pregnancy, told by four Alaska mothers who hope to help other women avoid repeating their mistakes.   Read more...
FASD specialist impressed with public school board’s program (Canada)
One of the country’s leading specialists in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder has given the Keewatin-Patricia School Board’s efforts to create classrooms better suited to teaching students with the condition a resounding thumbs up.  This is good news for Kenora because the school board plans to expand the program into Keewatin Public School starting next year.  Read more...

Fight against fetal alcohol disorder gets big push from Fairbanks senator, others (USA)
The [Alaskan] Senate this week unanimously put its support behind a Fairbanks lawmaker’s ambitious plan to eradicate fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  Two resolutions by Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, were approved to support the creation of community-based support networks and programs, such as screening and public awareness campaigns.  Read more...

OPINION: Compass: Pregnancy tests in bars and restaurants aim to empower women and eradicate FASD (USA)
Opinion piece by Senator Pete Kelly
Children prenatally exposed to alcohol face devastating, permanent, and irreversible lifelong disabilities.  Alchol acts as a solvent on brain cells in the process of forming.  The human cost of FASD is staggering and families dealing with it know only too well the day-by-day, even minute-by-minute struggles associated with the disorder.  Despair and suicide are often the outcomes of FASD and it can only be described as a tragedy – even though some families find the grace to triumph.  Read more...

OPINION:   Undeserved criticism for Sen. Kelly:  Focus on reducing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, not on political points  (USA)
Recent remarks by Republican Sen. Pete Kelly of Fairbanks during an interview about his effort to combat Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders have been carried way out of proportion.  The focus should be on what Sen. Kelly is trying to accomplish, but that’s not what some people have been concentrating on.  Read more...

OPINION:  Compass: Alaska should invest in effective means of treatment and prevention of FASD (USA)
Marilyn Pierce-Bulger presents an opinion piece based on her experience as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner who has worked for more than 30 years in Alaska.  “In my experience, it is the rare woman who is drinking uncontrollably or intentionally during her pregnancy. Half of pregnancies are still unintended, despite numerous new birth control options. I regularly see women who do not understand their menstrual/fertility cycles and/or who have misunderstandings about how contraceptives prevent pregnancy. We need to change this through quality reproductive education for parents and students at multiple times during the formative years of childhood/adolescence.”  Read more...
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Latest Research

Commentary on the Australian fetal alcohol spectrum disorder diagnostic guidelines
S.J. Astley, BMC Pediatrics, 1 April 2014
The publication of Australian fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) diagnostic guidelines marks an important step forward in Australia's efforts to prevent FASD. At the 5th International FASD Conference, the ever growing number of FASD diagnostic guidelines was identified as a core area of concern by leaders in FASD worldwide. All agreed we need to strive to adopt a single set of guidelines. It is essential that FASD diagnosis advance to incorporate new knowledge and technology. But to date, the field of FASD has seen multiple sets of guidelines published that do not address the important question - How is the performance of these new guidelines superior to the performance of existing guidelines to warrant/justify their introduction into the medical literature?  Read more...

Longitudina MRI reveals impaired cortical thinning in children and adolescents prenatally exposed to alcohol
S. Treit, D. Zhou, C. Lebel, C. Rasmussen, G. Andrew & C. Beaulieu, Human Brain Mapping, 3 April 2014
The effects of maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy are most pronounced in poor, rural communities.  Earlier research suggests that children with prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) have poor social behaviour; however, to date, no research has investigated their playfulness.  This study investigates the differences in playfulness of children with and without PAE, and suggests that children with PAE are more likely to experience poorer overall quality of play, with particular deficits in social play.  Read more...  

Effects of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure on Testosterone and Pubertal Development
R.C. Carter, J.L. Jacobson, N.C. Dodge, D.A. Granger and S.W. Jacobson, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 9 April 2014
Animal models have demonstrated fetal alcohol-related disruptions in neuroendocrine function in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis and downstream effects on pubertal development and sexual behaviour in males and females, but little is known about these effects in humans.  This study examined whether prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with alterations in testosterone during adolescence and whether it affects timing of pubertal development.  The results show that there is a relation between prenatal alcohol exposure and increased testosterone during adolescence and evidence of decreased testosterone responsiveness in tissues related to pubertal development in humans.  Read more...

Effects of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder on Adaptive Functioning
A.L. Ware, L. Glass, N. Crocker, B.N. Deweese, C.D. Coles, J.A. Kable, P.A. May, W.O. Kalberg, E.R. Sowell, K.L. Jones, E.P. Riley, S.N. Mattson and the CIFASD, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 21 March 2014
Heavy prenatal alcohol exposure and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are associated with adaptive behaviour deficits.  This study examines the interaction between these 2 factors on parent ratings of adaptive behaviour.  Results show that alcohol-exposed children had lower scores than children without prenatal alcohol exposure and children with ADHD had lower scores than those without ADHD.  Both prenatal alcohol exposure and ADHD increase adaptive behaviour deficits in all domains.  However, these two factors interact to cause the greatest impairment in children with both prenatal alcohol exposure and ADHD for communication abilities.  Read more...

Maternal alcohol consumption in pregnancy enhances arterial stiffness and alters vasodilator function that varies between vascular beds in fetal sheep
H.C. Parkington, K.R. Kenna, F. Sozo, H.A. Coleman, A. Bocking, J.F. Brien, R. Harding, D.W. Walker and M. Tare,The Journal of Physiology, 18 April 2014
While the impact of alcohol consumption by pregnant women on fetal neurodevelopment has received much attention, the effect on the cardiovascular system are not well understood.  This study shows for the first time that fetal arteries undergo marked and regionally variable adaptions as a consequence of repeated alcohol exposure.  These alcohol-induced vascular effects occurred in the apparent absence of fetal physical abnormalities or fetal growth restriction.   Read more...

The Differential Diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
T. Leibson, G. Newman, A.E. Chudley and G. Koren, Journal of Population Therapeutics and Clinical Pharmacology Vol 21, 10th February 2014
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) affects an estimated 1% of all children born in North America. FASD is a chronic disorder impacting many systems of care. Only a minority of these children exhibit the pathognomonic facial features of Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) that include short palpebral fissures, smooth philtrum and thin upper lip. Hence, in the majority of affected individuals FASD is a diagnosis of exclusion. The differential diagnosis of both the dysmorphological and neurobehavioral aspects of FASD is wide. This review aims to provide the pediatrician with information concerning the differential diagnosis of FASD and to discuss genetic testing that might be relevant to the assessment.  Read more... 

Review of ethanol dispersion, distribution, and elimination from the fetal compartment
M. Heller and L. Burd, Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 10 March 2014
This study is a review of alcohol dispersion into and elimination from the fetal compartment.  While the fetus has the ability to metabolise some ethanol, removal from the fetal-maternal unit relies primarily on maternal metabolic capacity.  The alcohol elimination rate from the fetal compartment is approximately 3-4% of the maternal rate.  Read more...

An In Vivo 1H Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Study of the Deep Cerebellar Nuclei in Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
L. du Plessis, J.L. Jacobson, S.W. Jacobson, A.T. Hess, A. van der Kouwe, M. J. Avison, C.D. Molteno, M.E. Stanton, J.A. Stanley, B.S. Peterson and E. M. Meintjes, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 21 March 2014
Prenatal alcohol exposure has been linked to impairment in cerebellar structure and function, including eyeblink conditioning. The deep cerebellar nuclei, which play a critical role in cerebellar-mediated learning, receive extensive inputs from brain stem and cerebellar cortex and provide the point of origin for most of the output fibres to other regions of the brain.  The conclusion from this study shows that the lower NAA levels seen in relation to prenatal alcohol exposure may reflect impaired neuronal integrity in the deep cerebellar nuclei.  Read more...

Significant long-term, but not short-term, hippocampal-dependent memory impairment in adult rats exposed to alcohol in early postnatal life
M. J. Goodfellow and D.H. Lindquist, Developmental Psychobiology,  1 April 2014
In rodents, ethanol exposure in early postnatal life is known to induce structural and functional impairments throughout the brain, including the hippocampus. Herein, rat pups were administered one of three ethanol doses over postnatal days (PD) 4–9, a period of brain development comparable to the third trimester of human pregnancy. Results suggest the ethanol rats can encode a short-term context memory and associate it with the aversive footshock 2 hr later. In the 24 hr ethanol rats the short-term context memory is poorly transferred or consolidated into long-term memory, we propose, impeding the memory's subsequent retrieval and association with shock.  Read more...  

The effectiveness of alcohol warning labels in the prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: A brief review
G. Thomas, G. Gonneau, N. Poole & J. Cook, The International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research, 2014
Alcohol warning labels (AWLs) are one way of influencing alcohol consumption in pregnancy and thereby preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  This review of the published literature suggests that while AWLs are popular with the public, their effectiveness for changing drinking behaviour is limited.  However, AWLs have been shown to stimulate conversations about alcohol consumption and may play a role in shifting social norms to reduce risks.  Read more...
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Upcoming Events

Remember to visit our events page on our website for a full listing of upcoming events. 

Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Council of Tasmania Biennial Conference 2014 – Hobart
DATE:  7th - 8th May 2014
DETAILS:  Visions and Values: Setting the Scene for the Future will open debate on important alcohol, tobacco and other drug issues and provide conference delegates with the opportunity to focus upon the future of the ATOD sector in this time of change.
For more information and registration, click here.  

NDRI Seminar: Working Together makes us Stronger - Perth
DATE: 8th May 2014
DETAILS: This free public seminar presents key findings, and the research process undertaken, for the Looking Forward Aboriginal Mental Health Project.  The project is working with mental health and drug and alcohol service providers and the local Nyoongar community living in the south-east metropolitan region of Perth (Armadale to Bentley) to effect positive system change in service provision for Nyoongar families living with mental health issues.  RSVP to the organisers at [email protected] with the subject line “Working Together Seminar” for more information. 

National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Conference – Melbourne
DATE: 4th – 6th June 2014
DETAILS: The National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee (NIDAC) anticipates this event will be the largest gathering of indigenous people working in the drug, alcohol and related fields, to take place in Australia.  The conference aims to bring indigenous and non-indigenous workers and stakeholders together from across Australia to celebrate the great work that is being done to address harmful indigenous alcohol and drug use.  It will also see a number of Australia's most prominent leaders in the field presenting workshops over the two and a half days.  For more information and registration, click here.  

SPEAK UP Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia (DANA) Conference – Sydney
DATE: 18th-20th June 2014
DETAILS: Nurses are in a unique position, confronted everyday by the human toll of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug (ATOD) misuse.  Yet as informed as we are, our voices are often silent in the debate around these matters, and our input into decision that can shape the future of the care we provide is minimal.  
DANA believes it is time to SPEAK UP about what they do to reduce the harm from ATOD.  To speak up regarding how they make a difference and to speak up on important issues that fall within our sphere of expertise.  For more information and to register, click here.  
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