The Loop - e-news

National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Australia.
[ Issue #14, October 2014 ]

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Dear Members & Supporters,
This month in “The Loop”

Thanks for joining us again this month and welcome to our new subscribers.

October was a busy month for NOFASD Australia - Adelle visited Melbourne for the Baby Expo and also joined our Chairperson, Sue Miers, at the AMA's national conference in Canberra, while Vicki jetsetted off to Deniliquin, NSW, to deliver a training session to service providers and carers.  

In November, Vicki joins the panel at the National Brain Injury Conference in Sydney.  She will also provide training for the Exceptional Needs Unit in Adelaide, the Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign and the First People Disability Network National Summit: A Line In The Sand in Melbourne.  Vicki is also presenting at the National Foster & Kinship Care Conference in Hobart. 

We are also very happy to announce Vicki's appointment to the National Complex Needs Committee.

NOFASD Australia has received a small shipment of custom lapel pins (see image above) - we're very pleased with how these turned out and are selling them for $2 per pin.  If you'd like to purchase a pin, please contact Terri via email ([email protected]).  Currently we have less than 100 in stock but will order more if required.

Please remember if you're on Facebook or Twitter to follow NOFASD Australia - we are constantly sharing items on interest via our social media outlets - and please share our newsletter with your family and friends.

Until next time,

Terri Baran
Social Media & Administration Officer

NOFASD Australia does not necessarily agree with the views or opinions expressed in the following linked articles.  Links are provided for interest and informational purposes only.

From My Desk...
Adelle (our National Educator) spent two days at a Baby Expo in Melbourne last weekend. Over 12,000 people passed through and Adelle advised there was plenty of interaction at the NOFASD table. Some people who approached Adelle queried the safety of small amounts of alcohol and risk only in the first trimester. Sometimes it is important to pull back to the basic prevention message to dispel the myths and offer clear and accurate information without instilling panic or concern.  It is true that no one knows which pregnancy or which unborn child is vulnerable to what amount of alcohol so the best advice is no alcohol when planning a pregnancy, during pregnancy and when breastfeeding. As Dr Sterling Clarren once said, "no alcohol equals no risk" for the unborn child. 

While I was in beautiful Deniliquin NSW delivering training to service providers and carers, Sue Miers (our Chairperson) and Adelle attended a meeting hosted by the Australian Medical Association in Canberra. Participants at this forum, including community leaders, medical and health experts, police, families of victims, and people who have experienced first-hand the myriad of harms that arise from alcohol planned to tackle the alcohol problem in Australia. Sue made an invited presentation on FASD. She spoke of the message she had tried to get through 15 years ago remained the same today and of Australian families in crisis – only a handful of medical practitioners willing/trained to diagnose, no services, some service providers with knowledge but no understanding of the complete spectrum of conditions we call FASD nor the lived experience and challenges for parents caring for affected children.

Many say the evidence is needed but should be accompanied by the human story. The former means we can more accurately count the numbers living with FASD in Australia whilst the human story adds the quality and the reality. I am in awe of parents/carers/relatives who care for children living with FASD. I am reminded almost every day of the social and emotional impact in conversations with parents and carers.  Here is a little scenario:

During a phone call on our 1300 number the parent tells me that this morning, like every week day began 1½ to 2 hours earlier than most other families because this is the time it takes to help remind each child and walk through each step of the 'getting ready' routine. The parent tells me both parents remain constantly vigilant and proactive, continually and gently reminding each child as bathroom, breakfast, dressing and packing school bags is completed. Television cannot be switched on nor can any toys or unnecessary items be in the room. Particular foods need to be packed for each child as either favourites or for best nutrition.  Regardless of clothes chosen and laid out ready the night before, a struggle begins with refusal to wear the school uniform in the morning and this child will only wear particular coloured socks which are in the washing.  Negotiation does not work and the child begins crying which sets off the other child who becomes very distressed. Neither child can explain why nor can either child be calmed in the same way. Eventually the children are in the car and the family is now 30 minutes late for school. On the way, the parents discuss the two appointments the children have – one has an appointment with the child psychiatrist and the other is visiting the dentist. The latter appointment is just after school so both parents will need to attend. Each child is settled independently in their classrooms. Once done, the parents return home. Mid-morning, the school phones to say one of the children has run away and one of the parents must return to the school. The parents again tell me their child does not understand waiting in line and needs to move around and she probably does not know what the group is lining up for either.  The teacher has explained by telling the child "We are going to the library and when I asked everyone if they were clear about standing in line and no talking, you understood. Now what is the problem?"  The child then remained silent because she did remember the instruction just then about being silent but not what would be expected when the class moved to the library. The teacher attempted to take the child's hand and it was at this point that the child ran away. The parents resolve the issue for today by taking the child home as it would take too long to calm the child and anyway, the other child has a dental appointment. The clock says it is 10am. 

This time 12 months ago, 35 parents met to create a "Call for Action".  In their vision the following recommendations were made and I wonder how far we have come in 12 months. 

1.  FASD must be officially recognized and understood as a disability. This is critical in order to be able to access services.
2.  FASD must be recognized by Governments (systems and services sector). 
3.  Every decision-making forum that relates to FASD must have parent/ carer representation
4.  FASD must be acknowledged as a serious consequence of alcohol use. It is too often unrecognized when alcohol-related harms are discussed in public policy.  
5.  Recognition of the cost burden to families. The cost burden to both families and services doesn't make sense versus cost of prevention.
6.  A national media campaign aimed at primary and secondary prevention. 
7.  Equitable distribution of Government funds. Currently funds are biased towards disabilities such as Autism.

Education and Training

8.  Community-wide education undertaken and followed up at regular intervals to encourage tolerance and understanding across the community.
9.  FASD must be included in all training modules for professionals who work with children and adults who may have an FASD. The group placed a particular emphasis on better training for the education system.  

Redefining community expectations
10.  Community expectations and understanding of ‘success’ for those living with FASDs must be reframed to acknowledge the strengths of individuals living with FASD. 

Birth parents
11.  Birth parents do not want to be treated differently, they want respect and they want the truth. All professionals, particularly health professionals, must lose the stigma, ask questions and provide honest answers. 

12.  Individuals and families need child and family support services across the lifespan.
13.  Diagnosis across the lifespan.
14.  Assessment processes must be delivered by professionals familiar with the characteristics of FASD.

Let me know your thoughts.

Of Special Interest

Sarah Sherwood
Back in March this year, we introduced you to Sarah Sherwood, a young Australian woman with FASD, who was selected to represent Queensland in equestrian at the Special Olympic National Summer Games.

We are excited to share that Sarah not only competed, but received a Gold Medal for her efforts!  Congratulations Sarah, and we hope to see you compete in the World Games next year!

Stepping Stones Triple P Project
All parents and caregivers of children with a disability are being invited to have their say about a new parenting support project led by the University of Sydney’s Professor Stewart Einfeld. 

From early 2015, free Stepping Stones Triple P programs will be available for parents and caregivers of children with a disability or developmental delay through the Stepping Stones Triple P (SSTP) Project. The evidence-based Stepping Stones programs are specially tailored for families of children with a disability and introduce a range of strategies to encourage positive behaviour, new skill development, and help to manage more challenging behaviour. The programs will be rolled out across NSW over a two year period. 
To start the project, every NSW parent or caregiver of a child with a disability or developmental 
delay, aged 2 to 10 years, is invited to share their story via an online survey. Have your say by telling the research team what highlights and challenges your family experiences, what parenting support you need, and how the research team can help. Your views will be used to plan the roll out of parenting programs. 
Visit to fill in the survey and register your interest in free parenting support. 
For further information, contact the NSW research team at [email protected] or 02 9114 4060. You can also visit and ‘like’ our Facebook page.
National News and Media
Bottle babies: the devastation of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders
No one’s sure how many Australians are affected by foetal alcohol spectrum disorders, but the consequences for those who are can be devastating.  In a life too often measured by inability, Lola Miers has multiple roles.  Mostly she is defined by what she cannot do – understand the consequences of her actions, for example, or love more than one person at once – and the explosive episodes that mark many of her days.  Read more… 

Mums who drink alcohol while pregnant consigning their kids to unemployment and jail
Mums who drink while pregnant could be consigning their child to a lifetime of unemployment and dependency an Australian Medical Association conference on alcohol has heard.  University Sydney Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder expert Professor Elizabeth Elliott says research has found less than 10 per cent of people with the disorder will get a job and be able to live independently.  More than 60 per cent will be in trouble with the law and 30 per cent will engage in drug and alcohol abuse themselves.  Read more…
Fitzroy Crossing waits to hear of terrible toll on its ‘grog babies’
The Kimberley town of Fitzroy Crossing is bracing for bad news that it suspected all along – that up to one in four children suffers from foetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or FASD, a level far higher than previously reported in Australia and one of the world’s highest recorded rates.  Read more…

Group demands action on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
FANNZ, through campaigning to highlight the problem of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, has published a Call To Action, demanding more funding and screening to deal with the debilitating condition.  The Call To Action is for urgent strengthened efforts to improve the lives of individuals with FASD and their families, and prevent the brain-based disability.  Read more… 

Network established to support families
FASD-CAN Incorporated, a non-profit organisation set up to support people affected by FASD is thrilled to announce that Auckland Judge Tony FitzGerald has accepted their invitation to be the organisation’s first patron.  Chairperson for FASD-CAN Mrs Clare Gyde says the organisation is honoured to have Judge FitzGerald accept the invitation.  Read more… 

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome moving into second and third generations in some indigenous communities
Foetal alcohol syndrome in indigenous communities is moving into second and third generations as impaired parents affected by the disorder struggle to raise offspring.  Elizabeth Elliott, a paediatrician at Children’s Hospital Westmead and The University of Sydney, has told a parliamentary inquiry that up to 55 per cent of mothers in one indigenous community were drinking alcohol during pregnancy.  Read more…
Esperance locals get the FSAD (sic) message out 
For nine minutes on September 11, locals gathered on Andrew Street to raise awareness of serious health issues caused by mothers drinking during pregnancy.  The message 'no alcohol during pregnancy is the safest choice' is being promoted by WA Country Health Service Goldfields in collaboration with local drug action groups.  A team from government, non-government, community and tertiary sectors helped get the message out.  National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder chief executive officer Vicki Russell said drinking alcohol during pregnancy could lead to brain damage, developmental delays, poor growth and birth defects. Behavioural problems were often a symptom of the underlying brain injury.  Read more… 
Call for foetal alcohol syndrome to be recognised as disability
A network of families caring for children with foetal alcohol syndrome disorder, or FASD, want the condition to be recognised as a disability, and for the government to stop ignoring the issue and take action.  Listen here…  
Sensory hacks to calm an angry child
If you have a child that has trouble controlling their temper, you know exactly how hard it can be to calm them down.  To celebrate the launch of Project Sensory, thought it would be really helpful to do a mini-series of Sensory Hacks that could be used to help with many of the difficult behaviours that are often linked to sensory needs.  Read more… 

'A Time To Act' – presentations from FASD Symposium NZ
Key presentations from the FASD Symposium 'A Time to Act' can be downloaded together with a 'Call to Action Consensus Statement' from the FANNZ website.  Read more…
Alcohol and Pregnancy: Warning Signage Information Kit for Local Governments from British Columbia 
The government of British Columbia recently released Alcohol and Pregnancy: Warning Signage Information Kit for Local Governments in British Columbia.  Over the past decade, several B.C. municipalities have passed bylaws under the Community Charter Act requiring alcohol retailers to post point-of-sale FASD warning or prevention signs.  Read more…
FASD at the Frontline
Two available documents from “Building Partnerships to Reduce Crime”, Saskatchewan.  Dialogue and Strategies for New Outcomes—Final Report offers an overview of the Spring 2014 event that brought together over 200 frontline workers from across the province to discuss FASD in Saskatchewan.  Policy Recommendations for Saskatchewan focuses on the key findings and policy recommendations from the event; it includes relevant research to support the recommendation.  Read more…
FASD in Review – October 2014
This month’s FASD in Review examines the recently published Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for implementing Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) titled Planning and Implementing Screening and Brief Intervention for Risky Alcohol Use: A Step-by-Step Guide for Primary Care Practices.  Read more… 

The Body-Behaviour Connection: A first hand perspective about FASD
Myles Himmelreich, living with FASD, provides a multi-dimensional, educational perspective.  Watch the video… 

Be With Child Without Alcohol
“Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries is committed to the safe, healthy and responsible use of alcohol.  We believe people should be able to enjoy beverage alcohol products but not at the expense of anyone’s health and well-being.  Be With Child Without Alcohol was developed to provide women and the villages in their lives with information about alcohol use during pregnancy to help them prevent alcohol-related disabilities like Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  Together we can help prevent FASD.”  Read more…  

Why You Should be Thinking About Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Your Practice
An article from Lewis First, MD, MS, Editor-in-Chief of the Pediatrics Journal.
Diagnosing someone with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is easier said than done.  The findings can be subtle and might be easily missed unless you uncover clues in the family history or are aware of the constellation of dysmorphology findings that can be associated with this disorder.  Read more… 
International News and Media
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: The missing diagnosis [USA]
A four-part series on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders by Sue Gabriel (Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner)
Tracy (not her real name, but a real daughter of a friend in another state) is a 13-year-old gymnast, artist, music lover, animal lover, member of her church youth group and an all-around engaging young lady. She's polite with adults, helpful with students with "special" needs, and tries hard to keep up with her chore list at home. She wouldn't dream of using alcohol or other illegal substances. Why then are her adoptive parents called to school multiple times each week for her "bad behavior"? Why are they considering home-schooling, feeling the public school system has failed Tracy?  Read more:  Part One  | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four 

The self-proclaimed 'first bar for pregnant women' is here [USA]
Beer belly – or baby bump?  A storefront in the East Village (NYC) is billing itself as the city's "first bar for pregnant women."  Gestations at Fifth Street and Avenue A proclaims, "All you mothers-to-be should come check out our trimester specials and our 9-month happy hour because now you’re drinking for two!"  It may just be a tasteless advertising gimmick – but the wacky signage has sparked plenty of pregnant pauses from passers-by.  Read more… 
UTHSC Professor Will Study Effects of Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy [USA]
One in 13 women consume alcoholic beverages during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  By doing so, they increase the likelihood of having a miscarriage, stillbirth, or giving birth to a baby with defects of developmental disabilities.  Anna Bukiya, an associate professor in the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Department of Pharmacology, will explore the effects of FASDs through a new project titled “Fetal Cerebrovascular eCB System as a Target of Maternal Alcohol Consumption”. Read more… 

Guelph couple surrender son to state for FASD services [Canada]
The parents of two children with FASD say they had to give up parental rights to their 14-year-old son because the government would not support the boy’s special needs.  The Guelph couple cannot be named, as doing so would identify their youngest adopted son, who is now a Crown ward. “We thought that once we could show everybody that there was an actual, legitimate problem [following diagnosis at age 3], the services would be here to help us,” she says.  Instead, she says service agencies told the couple that their son’s diagnosis did not qualify him for provincial supports.  Read more…  

Stigma, classism hinder fight over FASD [Canada]
Our culture’s understanding of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is mired in prejudice, according to an author who will be speaking in Saskatoon this week [Oct 6].  “If you’re white, you’re ADHD.  And if you’re not, you’re FASD.  That tend to be the common appreciation of this problem. There’s some real middle- and upper-class arrogance around FASD,” Ann Johnston, author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol, said Friday.  Read more… 
MU researcher receives grant for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome prevention [USA]
MU School of Social Work researcher Dr. Leigh Tenkku Lepper is receiving funding for her research on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  The grant is for more than one million dollars, and is aimed at enhancing prevention efforts towards FASD.  Tenkku Lepper knows what needs to be done to increase prevention towards disease.  Read more…
Searching for Answers on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome [USA]
Terry Trujillo’s family has been facing an ordeal that would be familiar to a surprising number of Americans.  Holding back tears, she remembers the moment she had to explain to her adopted nephew that his severe learning disabilities, memory problems and behaviour issues were the result of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Read more…
The Arc receives grant for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder education [USA]
The Arc of Winnebago, Boone and Ogle Counties received a grant to education people living in the communities they serve about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) prevention.  FASD is the single most common cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) that is 100 percent preventable. Read more… 

Saskatchewan conference underway to raise FASD awareness [Canada]
Experts say FASD research is ongoing in regards to: at what stage in a woman’s pregnancy the unborn baby is affected, why women drink and what can be done to help children born with [FASD].  “I started to see those three to four hour meltdowns could happen, definitely connecting cause and effect isn’t there,” said Shana Mohr, community education coordinator with the FASD Support Network of Saskatchewan.   Read more…

If you could prevent brain damage in a child, would you? [UK]
Ahead of a debate in Parliament the eminent paediatrician and former first Children’s Commissioner for England urges the UK Government to take action on the most important preventable cause of brain damage in children.  Exposure to alcohol before birth is the most important preventable cause of brain damage in children that could affect up to 1 in every 100 babies in England.  Its effects range from devastating physical and learning disabilities to subtle damage causing bad behaviour, violence and criminality.  Read more… 
Ontario to follow other provinces, create FASD strategy [Canada]
Advocates for individuals living with FASD say they are delighted that Ontario is following the example of other Canadian provinces by moving toward the creation of a strategy to address the condition.  Read more…
Sudbury judge considers dangerous offender ruling [Canada]
A Superior Court judge has reserved his decision following the dangerous offender hearing of a M'Chigeeng First Nation man convicted of stabbing a brother and sister in 2009. What is also important to note now, Waltenbury said, is that Bebonang has recently been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Such individuals tend to mature more slowly, he said. Consequently, things that happened when Bebonang was in his teens and early 20s, he argued, should have less importance put on them now.  Read more… 

MP to debate dangers of women drinking while pregnant [UK]
Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson , the Labour MP for Sefton Central, is to hold a debate in Parliament about the dangers to children of their mothers drinking alcohol while pregnant.  The Labour MP, whose constituency includes Formby, said that at least one in every 100 children suffers from some damage as a result of this problem, with some estimates putting the figures much higher at between two and five in every 100.  Read more… 

Ask the Expert: The Birth Mother Perspective on FASD: An Interview with National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) [USA]
Kathleen Tavenner Mitchell, M.H.S., LCADC, is Vice President and International Spokesperson for the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) and a leading speaker and advocate on FASD and women and addictions. She is also the birth mother of a daughter, Karli, who was diagnosed with FAS in 1986. Karli, now an adult, has also become an active advocate on FASD and for other individuals and families impacted by these disorders. For this month's Ask the Expert, Ms. Mitchell has been kind enough to provide her perspective on being the birth mother of a child with an FASD, and on her extensive work to increase awareness of FASD and increase and improve services for individuals with an FASD as well as for women who are dealing with addiction issues.  Read more…
Alcohol Consumption Among Pregnant Women Changes Before And After Unwanted Pregnancy [USA]
Can you drink while you’re pregnant? What if you drink yourself into bed with someone and continue cyclical drinking habits weeks or even months before realizing you’re pregnant? For some reason, there is still an overwhelming muddle of answers from experts, obstetricians, and researchers. While some say absolutely not, others say perhaps small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy won’t harm the baby.  Read more… 

Infant hospitalized after mom drank alcohol during pregnancy [USA]
A Union woman is charged with unlawful neglect of a child after her baby was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome.  According to an incident report from the Union County Sheriff's Office, the department of social services notified deputies that an infant boy born in May has been in the intensive care unit at the Spartanburg Medical Center since birth. He has been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, the report states.  Read more…  

FASD is not a diagnosis [USA]
“I hear it all the time now. “Oh, he has FASD.”  Well, no he doesn’t, because there is no such thing.  Confused? So are most people.  In March of this year I posted a discussion of the new DSM-5 terminology and its attempt to begin to clear up the morass of initialisms used to describe individuals affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol. The term “fetal alcohol syndrome” (FAS) has remained a constant over the years, with clear diagnostic criteria (impaired growth, facial dysmorphology, and neurodevelopmental deficits). But, in referring to those children and youth whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy and who suffer neurodevelopmental deficits but show partial or no apparent expression of physical features associated with alcohol exposure, there has been a long history of changing terminology.  Read more…
Clairmont: ‘We’re just looking for some help’ [Canada]
They feel certain the mother of their three adopted children drank during her pregnancy.  They believe it to be true because of their children's behaviour: the learning difficulties, the hitting, the hording, the swearing, the toileting difficulties, the tantrums.  They believe it to be true because the mother admitted to regularly using marijuana during pregnancy, and sometimes cocaine.  And they believe it to be true because the children, aged 10, 9 and 5, all exhibit signs of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  But the adoptive parents fear they will never know for sure, because the only person who can confirm the mother drank while pregnant is the mother — and she is dead.  Read more…

Family specializes in fetal alcohol syndrome [USA]
When you are expecting a baby, you hope for the best of everything.  You pray for good health, intelligence and happiness.  For children born with fetal alcohol syndrome, they start with a whole spectrum of disability. A family in Newell specializes in the care of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, FASD.  12 little people now call Nora Boesem "Mom".  All were adopted, all fetal alcohol children.  Each of their biological mothers abused alcohol while pregnant.  Read more…

Great Falls dog treat company is more than meets the eye [USA]
A treat for your dog might also be a way to benefit a cause many may not know much about. This Great Falls pooch-based company is much more than meets the eye.  "I got Lissie when she was just turning 6. And I thought, boy is this going to change everything." says Sister Johnelle, who happens to be Melissa's guardian. Since the day they met in 1982, Sister Johnelle and Melissa Clark, or Lissie as she's known, knew they were a perfect match. Just like any other CEO, Lissie works tirelessly each day to expand her local business. However, Lissie battles through a disadvantage most company founders don't. "I was one of the first people to be diagnosed in the state, even, just as they were making that turning point to FASD."  Due to being diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Lissie found it difficult to find employment during her early adult years.  Read more…

More Kids Harmed by Drinking in Pregnancy Than Expected, Study Reports [USA]
Although drinking during pregnancy has long been considered taboo, new research suggests that as many as one in 20 U.S. children may have health or behavioural problems related to alcohol exposure before birth.  The study found that between 2.4 percent and 4.8 percent of children have some kind of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  Read more…
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders affecting local kids [USA]
Local doctors in Quincy, Illinois say moms in the Tri-States are drinking while they’re pregnant and it’s affecting their kids.  Quincy Doctor, Seth Heimer, says he’s seen five kids in two years with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.  Read more…
Latest Research
Children adopted from Poland display a high risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and some may go undiagnosed
S. Knuiman, C. H. A. M. Rijk, R. A. C. Hoksbergen and A.L. van Baar, ACTA Paediatrica, 6 October 2014, doi: 10.1111/apa.12822
Children adopted from Central and Eastern Europe often have negative early experiences, including prenatal exposure to alcohol.  This study examined a group of Polish children, adopted by Dutch parents, to see how many were diagnosed with FASD and to what extent features of FASD were present.  Parents answered a questionnaire regarding FASD diagnosis, growth, educational attainment and the Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function.  Results showed that children adopted from Poland showed a high risk of FASD and some children may go undiagnosed.  Adoptive parents and professionals need to be aware of the potential consequences of prenatal exposure to alcohol.  Read more…
Habitual alcohol consumption associated with reduced semen quality and changes in reproductive hormones; a cross-sectional study among 1221 young Danish men
T.K. Jensen, M. Gottschau, J.O.B. Madsen, A-M. Andersson, T.H. Lassen, N.E. Skakkebæk, S.H. Swan, L. Priskorn, A. Juul and N. Jørgensen, BMJ Open, 2 October 2014, doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005462
1221 young Danish men, aged 18-28 years, were recruited when they attended a compulsory medical examination to determine their fitness for military service from 2008 to 2012.  Alcohol consumption over the past 30 days was estimated.  Sperm quality (volume, concentration, count and percentages of motile and morphologically normal spermatozoa) and serum concentration of reproductive hormones was measured.  Results show even modest habitual alcohol consumption of more than 5 units per week had adverse effects on semen quality.  Alcohol consumption was also linked to changes in testosterone and SHBG levels. Read more…
Women’s perceptions of information about alcohol use during pregnancy: a qualitative study
A.E. Anderson, A.J. Hure, F.J. Kay-Lambkin and D.J. Loxton, BMC Public Health, 8 October 2014, doi: 10.1168/1471-2458-14-1048
A number of alcohol guidelines worldwide suggest that pregnant women should abstain from alcohol.  However, high prevalence rates of alcohol consumption during pregnancy still exist.  This qualitative study aimed to explore women’s perceptions of information they received about alcohol use during pregnancy after the introduction of abstinence guidelines.  Women reported a number of problems with the information about alcohol use during pregnancy and with its dissemination.  Mixed messages and confusion about identifying a safe level of consumption had implications on women’s decisions to drink or abstain during pregnancy. Women expressed a need for a clear, consistent message to be provided to women as early as possible.  They preferred that the message come from healthcare professionals or another reputable source.   Read more...
Fine Motor Skills in Children With Prenatal Alcohol Exposure or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder 
R. Doney, B.R. Lucas, T. Jones, P. Howat, K. Sauer, E.J. Elliott, Journal of Developmental and Behavioural Pediatrics, 16 October 2014, Epub ahead of print
Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and associated neurodevelopmental impairments. It is uncertain which types of fine motor skills are most likely to be affected after PAE or which assessment tools are most appropriate to use in FASD diagnostic assessments. This systematic review examined which types of fine motor skills are impaired in children with PAE or FASD; which fine motor assessments are appropriate for FASD diagnosis; and whether fine motor impairments are evident at both "low" and "high" PAE levels. Complex fine motor skills, such as visual-motor integration, were more frequently impaired than basic fine motor skills, such as grip strength. Assessment tools that specifically assessed fine motor skills more consistently identified impairments than those which assessed fine motor skills as part of a generalized neurodevelopmental assessment. Fine motor impairments were associated with "moderate" to "high" PAE levels. Few studies reported fine motor skills of children with "low" PAE levels, so the effect of lower PAE levels on fine motor skills remains uncertain.  Read more…

Beneficial and cautionary outcomes of resveratrol supplementation in pregnant nonhuman primates
V.H.J. Roberts, L.D. Pound, S.R. Thorn, M.B. Gillingham, K.L. Thornburg, J.B. Friedman, A.E. Frias and K.L. Grove, The FASEB Journal Vol. 28 No. 6, 21 Feb 2014, doi: 10.1096/fj.13-245472
Resveratrol has been proposed as a potential therapeutic to improve metabolic health during pregnancy, yet little is known about the fetal effects of this maternal dietary supplement. The researchers hypothesized that when administered to pregnant nonhuman primates (NHPs), resveratrol would increase uterine blood flow and mitigate the harmful consequences of maternal Western-style diet (WSD) consumption. The results demonstrate that resveratrol use during pregnancy yields improvements in maternal and placental phenotype with beneficial effects in the fetal liver but an unexplained and concerning alteration in fetal pancreatic development, which strongly cautions against the use of resveratrol by pregnant women.  Read more…

Addressing FASD in British Columbia, Canada: Analysis of Funding Proposals
M.A. George, C. Hardy
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a preventable health issue affecting about 10% of the population.  This research examined proposals submitted to a call for funding for projects to improve outcomes for people with FASD.  The aim was to use the proposals as proxy for perceptions of needs held by practitioners in British Columbia, Canada, where considerable FASD-related education and awareness exists.  Read more… 

Maternal Risk Factors for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in a Province in Italy
M. Ceccanti, D. Fiorentino, G. Coriale, W.O. Kalberg, D. Buckley, H.E. Hoyme, J.P. Gossage, L.K. Robinson, M. Manning, M. Romeo, J.M. Hasken, B. Tabachnick, J. Blankenship, and P.A. May, Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 25 October 2014, doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.10.017
Maternal risk factors for FASD in Italy and Mediterranean cultures need clarification, as there are few studies and most are plagued by inaccurate reporting of antenatal alcohol use.  905 maternal interviews were carried out in a population-based study of the prevalence and characteristics of FASD in the Lazio region of Italy.  Underreporting of prenatal alcohol use has been demonstrated among Italian and other Mediterranean antenatal samples, and was suspected in this sample.  Nevertheless, several significant maternal risk factors for FASD have been identified.  Read more…
Upcoming Events
Remember to visit our events page on our website for a full listing of upcoming events. 

APSAD Conference – Adelaide, SA
DATE: 9-12th November 2014
DETAILS: The conference, to be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from Sunday 9 – Wednesday 12 November 2014, will feature an exciting program of international and national speakers, focusing on new treatments, prevention and policy in the areas of drug and alcohol research. With original and innovative work from the field, the program will encourage alternative presentation styles.  Read more…

National Acquired Brain Injury Conference 2014 - Sydney. NSW
 10-11th November 2014 
DETAILS: Learn valuable strategies for managing the changing needs of patients with acquired brain injury (ABI).  Highlights:  Decision Making with Clients with ABI; ABI & the NDIS: Case Studies from the Barwon Launch Site in Victoria; Addressing the Over-Representation of People with an ABI in the Criminal Justice System; Paediatric Brain Injury - Where are we now?; ABI Families & Rural Resourcing - How to be Creative; and an Interactive Panel Discussion: FASD is a Brain Injury Too: Developments & Implications for Australia, upon which our CEO Vicki Russell will be a panelist.  Read more... 

2014 FASD Matters Conference: FASD and Human Rights – Minneapolis, MN
DATE: 13-14th November 2014
DETAILS: The 2014 FASD matters conference will provide a forum to network, share information, problem solve, and discuss the intersection of human rights and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. We will explore issues such as: access to health care, housing, school issues, social services, legal and civil justice, and employment. Over 20 exhibits will be featured. Student discounts, and partial scholarships are available to those where cost is a barrier to participation. Read more…

National Foster & Kinship Care Conference – Hobart, TAS
DATE: 13-14th November 2014
DETAILS: This year's conference will focus on producing better outcomes for children and young people by sharing the care together. Everyone has a part to play in ensuring children and young people receive care that is targeted to their needs and provides opportunities for strong development and growth. By working together and building strong supportive care teams we enhance the sharing of knowledge, skills and best practice thereby achieving stronger outcomes for children and young people in Out of Home Care.  (Our very own Vicki Russell will be presenting an hour-long class at this conference).  Read more…
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