The Loop - e-news

National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Australia.
[ Issue #16, December 2014 ]

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

Happy New Year from the NOFASD Australia team!  We hope you have all had a very safe and enjoyable holiday season.

This newsletter comes to you just a tad late due to the Christmas break, but we're all back in action and working hard to bring our goals and prospects to fruition in 2015.  

I asked our team the question: What are your NOFASD-related resolutions or goals this year?

Vicki:  To drive the inclusion of the true human story of FASD at every opportunity.

Adelle: To start an education revolution” If we (parents, carers, professionals & community) share our knowledge, information and create FASD conversations it will help educate the whole of community in regards to FASD prevention and strategies and offer community an understanding of FASD to help all our children and families living with FASD to feel supported and valued.

Mel: To bring the NOFASD supporter database up-to-date with current information about members, to assist NOFASD in both promoting the organisation and being able to provide the best help we can to those who need it most.

And my own resolution this year for NOFASD is to complete a parent/carer advocacy toolkit, that has been in the works for some time now, which will provide helpful resources to assist parents and carers with their child's school, doctors, and other professionals they deal with often.

You can help us achieve our goals this year by doing one (or all!) of the following:

  1. Join our mailing list.  If you are reading this newsletter on the web or received it via email from a friend or colleague, please subscribe! This will guarantee that you won't miss any of our updates.
  2. Already subscribed? Bring your subscriber information up-to-date so that we can provide you with the information and/or services you need the most.  You can do this by filling out the subscription form here.
  3. If you're a parent or carer, fill out this short survey to assist us in building the most effective advocacy toolkit we can.
  4. Share your story!  Email us about your experience about living with FASD - it doesn't need to be long.  If you need some help with this, you can always contact us via email or phone and we'll gladly help you.
  5. Spread the word! Let your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, etc. know what FASD is, and that they can read all about it on our website,
  6. Last but not least: Donate! Our continued success depends on your support.  NOFASD Australia exists to support families living with FASD and prevent harms caused by alcohol. All donations to NOFASD Australia over $2 are tax deductible - you can make your donation online.

If you haven't already, you can 'Like' us over on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and of course we'd greatly appreciate the NOFASD Community being shared amongst your family and friends.

Until next time,

Terri Baran
Social Media & Administration Officer
[email protected]

From My Desk...
For NOFASD Australia, my New Year’s resolution is to promote the human story of FASD and for the benefit of Australia, my wish is for more informed decision making on alcohol use when it comes to planning a pregnancy, during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

The evidence of harm to the unborn child from alcohol exposure is well established. What is not known is which of the 250,000 pregnancies each year in Australia are vulnerable to fetal alcohol exposure. In addition, alcohol continues is separated from other drugs and we still refer to ‘alcohol and drugs’ rather than ‘alcohol and other drugs’ in common language. As a food product, alcohol use is given preferential treatment and yet we all know the effect alcohol has on the central nervous system. We are almost de-sensitised to its use until something tragically goes wrong and I fear, we dismiss the harm through self-talk statements like ‘everyone has a worse drinking problem than me’ or ‘but those people are alcohol dependent or alcoholic.’ Surely our experience of the effect on the adult from increasing alcohol intoxication would translate to the toxic effect of alcohol exposure on the more vulnerable unborn child. 

Patterns of drinking (how much and over what time in pregnancy) is the most concerning risk factor. FASD is not a greater risk in some communities than other communities because there is no evidence from all communities to make such a comparison. Rather, we need to look at who is doing the drinking. I recently sighted this advertisement on a website. It shows a handbag designed to hold a wine cask bladder and people are invited to ‘tag a friend who would use this bag.’ So, who is doing the drinking?

This year, I anticipate hearing from parents who have learned of their pregnancy and who are struggling with the knowledge that they have been drinking (often excessively) over the holiday period unaware of pregnancy. As I previously wrote, no one can predict if a pregnancy or child is vulnerable to alcohol and there is no easy response.  We must be supportive.

For those caring for a child living with FASD, your story is unique and should be told because nothing compares to the human story of FASD. As the individual living with FASD or the carer, you are the expert and I encourage you to write.  Sometimes it can be difficult to tell a personal story or to find the right words. If this is the case for you, talk to us and we will help put your thoughts and experiences into words. We will then send it to you for approval. When we have your agreement, then your story can be shared with anyone who will listen or perhaps more importantly, needs to listen – decision makers in governments and service organisations, extended family members, people in your community, in your state or territory. Your story will help educate others and is an opportunity for you to share your opinion, to have your say. Be truthful, be yourself, but also remember your limits and how much you are comfortable sharing in public. Remember to keep it “short and sweet” – only a few paragraphs that can be told in three minutes. 

All the best for 2015.

Of Special Interest

Changes and Updates to the NOFASD Australia Website
We've made a few changes to our 5-star website!

  • You can now make donations to NOFASD Australia via Paypal.  All donations over $2 are tax-deductible.
  • Our Twitter feed is now running along the top of our homepage, so you'll never miss our latest 'tweets'.
  • Put faces to names with the latest update of the 'Our Staff' page including photos of our administration team.
  • The addition of 'key items' on our homepage - take a look underneath the slides.
We are also in the process of producing some more content for the homepage, so keep your eye out for that.

Share your stories
One of the major goals for NOFASD Australia is bringing FASD 'to life'.  We want to share real stories from real people - unedited, unscripted.  If you are affected by FASD, as someone born with FASD, birth parents, adoptive parents, carers, foster parents - anyone who has dealt with FASD directly - we want to hear from you!  We need to make your voices heard.  We want to remove the idea that FASD only happens to certain kinds of people, where in reality it is everyone's problem.

Some points to help you:
1. Introduce yourself – you can remain anonymous if you wish, but including at least a first name is recommended. 
2. Paint a brief picture of who you are - a student, a person living with FASD, or perhaps you are a family member of someone living with a disability, or a provider of services. Describe your job or profession, your support role etc.
3. Talk about your experience or challenge, any actions you have taken and what happened.  
   a. Focus on one or two main challenges you have experienced. Also, try not to use anger or harsh language, bitterness or extreme emotions. This can have the opposite effect of making people turn against your cause.
   b. Paint a vivid picture. Spice it with direct examples, anecdotes, things that actually happened to you, as a way for readers to "see" what you're saying. This helps paint a picture in the reader's mind.  Add personal examples that will help "show" what your life is like.
   c. Describe what has been successful. This is the most important part of your story. What has helped you stay stable? What supports/services would you recommend? Policy-makers need to know what works so they know what to support.
4. Finally, make an "ask".  Tell what you want the readers to think about or do. This is the "ask." Describe what action or position you want them to take. This can be legislation, a budget item, a community response, or any other action you think is needed.  Talk about how the "ask" will benefit you, your child or other individuals, families, communities, etc.

Contact us with your story.  You may remain anonymous if you wish. If you need help putting it into words, send us a message or give us a call on 1300 306 238 - we would be more than happy to assist you.  It need not be long, just 2-4 paragraphs is fine.

We exist to help you, and to help others understand FASD, so that better support, education and training is available.  

"Knowing about FASD is not the same as understanding FASD."
National News and Media
FASD: Strategies to address information gaps (AIHW)
This AIHW bulletin identifies ways to facilitate the collection and reporting of FASD-related information in Australia.  According to the bulletin, limited information is currently available about the incidence and prevalence of FASD in Australia and internationally.  This lack of data reflects the low level of awareness by clinicians of FASD conditions, the complexity of diagnosis and the absence of nationally agreed and consistent diagnostic criteria and definitions.  Read more…

Fetal Alcohol Network NZ Update now available
FANNZ latest newsletter is now available for download from their website.  Read more…  [direct download link]

Newcastle FASD prevention
On 11 December 2014, a broad and representative cross section of Newcastle based public, private and community organisations and individuals united to initiate the development, implementation and evaluation of [an FASD] integrated response strategy for our city and surrounds.  The meeting (initiated by Newcastle CDAT) was opened by the Hon. Dr Sharman Stone MP Chairperson of the House of Representatives, Standing Committee, Indigenous Affairs.  Read more… 

Forum focuses on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
It’s hoped Newcastle will become the first city in Australia to develop its own strategy for preventing FASDs.  Today [11th December] police, community groups, and health professionals met on the subject for the first time. Every year in Australia, around two per cent of babies have a birth defect caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy.  Read more… 

Industry actively targeting drinking whilst pregnant: DrinkWise
DrinkWise has several valuable initiatives in place to inform consumers of the dangers of drinking whilst pregnant, CEO John Scott has reaffirmed.  Scott was responding to Anne Russell, founder of the Russell Family Fetal Alcohol Disorders Association (RFFADA), who took issue with ALSA president Giuseppe Minissale’s claim that anti-alcohol advocacy organisations had wasted millions and achieved little in the fight against alcohol-related harm.  Read more… 
DrugInfo – Pregnancy, breastfeeding and alcohol
A simple and comprehensive fact sheet about the effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Read more…

FASD Issue Papers from the Canada FASD Research Network provide a quick overview of recent research
The Canada FASD Research Network has developed a series of “issue papers” that provide a 2-3 page overview of a range of issues related to FASD based on the latest research.  Read more… 

FASD in Review – FASD Center for Excellence
This month, FASD in Review examines a new article in the journal Pediatrics by Philip A. May, Ph.D., and colleagues that estimates that the prevalence of FASD among school children may be significantly higher than previous estimates. The review summarizes the findings and discussions their implications for the FASD field.  Read more…  

Kimberley FASD Resource
Understanding and addressing the needs of children and young people living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is a practical education resource designed to support School Leaders, Teachers, Aboriginal Educators and the broad school community to recognise, understand and work effectively with students living with FASD in our schools.  Kimberley Success Zone (KSZ) has developed this package to support educators across the Kimberley; however, the materials are also relevant for all school communities across Australia, meeting the complex needs of students living with this challenging and often difficult to diagnose set of disorders.  Read more…
A supplementary video from Kimberley Success Zone with Fitzroy Valley teacher Lauren Grinter can also be viewed here.  

NOFAS-UK – 12th Fetal Alcohol Forum
NOFAS-UK is pleased to announce the release of the 12th Issue of the FETAL ALCOHOL FORUM with the latest FASD research and articles from experts. Read more…

Resources for professionals supporting children and families
Developed by Child Family Community Australia (CFCA), the resources listed below are intended to inform practitioners and other professionals about the implications of FASD for children and their families.  They also describe principles for supporting children and families affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. A recording of the webinar, with presentation slides and a transcript, will be made available on CFCA’s website in the next few weeks and we will post a link to our Facebook page when that is available, as well as include it in our next newsletter.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders:  Current issues in awareness, prevention and intervention :This CFCA paper describes the implications of FASD for children and their families, and highlights current research on prevention and intervention programs.
Supporting children living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Practice principles : This practice guide outlines principles for supporting children and families affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD): An information and resource guide for educators : This guide was written specifically to support educators across the Kimberley region of Western Australia to meet the complex needs of students living with this challenging and often difficult to diagnose set of disorders.  The materials are also relevant for school communities throughout Australia.  

What Men Can Do To Help!
A list of suggestions from the Canada FASD Research Network for men who want to make a difference.  Suggestions include taking a “pregnant pause” for the duration of the pregnancy, Offer non-alcoholic beverages when entertaining family and friends, and being an active role model.  Read more… 

Adolescents with FASDs – 2014 Webinar Series DVD Set
Features five DVDs covering Neurodevelopment in the Adolescent with FASD, School and Academic Functioning, Sexual Development and Sexuality, Parenting Adolescents with FASDs, and FASD and Adolescents in the Child Welfare System. DVDs are formatted for all regions, so they can be purchased by anyone worldwide.  Read more…

Birth Defects Prevention Month - January 2015 – Resource Pack
The National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) Education and Outreach Committee is excited to share the 2015 National Birth Defects Prevention Month packet. This packet was developed in collaboration with many partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and Teratology Society (TS). The theme for 2015 is “Making Healthy Choices to Prevent Birth Defects – Make a PACT for Prevention.” Although not all birth defects can be prevented, steps can be taken to increase a woman’s chance of having a healthy baby. Read more…
International News and Media

​Court Says Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Isn't a Crime [UK]
A UK court wouldn't award damages to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome because, they said, the damage was done in utero.  A UK court of appeal ruled last week that "CP", a seven-year-old girl with FASD, could not be awarded damages after her mother drank heavily during pregnancy.  CP's mother, known as "EQ" in court papers, drank "half a bottle of vodka and eight cans of strong lager a day" while she was pregnant with CP, according to a story in The Guardian.  Read more

Advocates disappointed Yukon MP Ryan Leef's FASD bill dropped [Canada]
Advocates for people with [FASD] are disappointed Yukon Ryan Leef's private member's bill won't be debated in this session of Parliament.  The bill would have allowed courts to consider FASD a mitigating factor in sentencing when a judge believed FASD was a factor in the crime.  "Both the public and the government need to understand that it's a disability," says Michael McCann, the executive director of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Society of Yukon. "The resultant behaviours that come about as a result of the disability are not behaviours a person may have any control over."  Read more… 

Liberals, Tories play politics with law that would allow fetal alcohol criminals to get special treatment [Canada]
The Liberals and Tories agree people with FASD should spend less time in jail if convicted of a crime.  But they can't agree on how to introduce new legislation to do that.  Studies have shown that FASD is prominent in aboriginal and northern communities.  Legislations, originally brought forth by Ryan Leef, the Conservative MP from the Yukon, was pulled because he said he wouldn't have had enough time to get it passed before next fall's election.  Read more…

FASD bill withdrawn for further study: MP [Canada]
Legislation that would have legally defined FASD and given judges leeway to consider the impact of FASD when determining a sentence was quietly withdrawn last month.  In its place, a study on FASD will be held at the House of Commons justice committee, which Conservative MP Ryan Leef (Yukon) said would help better define the problem and outline an appropriate government response.  Opposition critics said the bill disappeared because the Conservative government won't back a bill that doesn't fit its tough-on-crime agenda as the next federal election looms.  Read more…

Alcohol, Pregnancy, and Racial and Social Class Bias [USA]
By Dr. Ira J. Chasnoff, M.D., an opinion piece on how racism and classism doom prevention efforts, branching from a recent article in Cosmo magazine and a study published in Pediatrics conducted by Dr. Phillip May.  "…in a world where health care and social service policy is wrapped in an "us versus them" mentality, on a public as well as political level, it's always "them" that are the problem, "them" that should be listening.  We should all be listening, for the problem is us; not women, not men, not the government. Us." Read more…

UK court rules woman who drank while pregnant didn't commit crime against daughter, who is disabled [UK]
A British court has ruled that heavy drinking during pregnancy should not be considered a "crime of violence" against the child in a case that had raised concerns about criminalising mothers.  The case was brought by a local authority applying to the government's criminal compensation authority for damages on behalf of a seven-year-old girl in its care who has severe disabilities after her mother drank heavily while pregnant.  Read more…

Family advocates for legal definition of FASD [Canada]
The Winnipeg family of Christopher Surbey has a strong interest in the political debate about whether judges should have more flexibility when sentencing criminals who have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  They believe the justice system failed Christopher, who had FASD and was stabbed to death when he was 17. Read more…

Campaign warns expectant mums: No alcohol means no risk [Wales]
Hywel Dda Health Board has launched a set of posters highlighting the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant.  The move comes as part of the Think Safe, Drink Safe alcohol public awareness campaign and seeks to encourage expectant mums to abstain completely during pregnancy.  "The message for pregnant women about safer use of alcohol has lacked clarity and consistency over the years and the campaign provides a simple and clear message that no alcohol means no risk for the unborn child," said a health board spokesman.  Read more…

Police officers mentor children with fetal alcohol disorder [Canada]
Matthew Colombo dreams about being a police officer.  That's because the 11-year-old Elmira boy has a role model he hopes to emulate some day – Const. William Hand.  "Follow your dreams.  Don't let anyone stop you from your dream," said Colombo, a Grade 6 student.  Colombo first met the traffic officer about 18 months ago when his mother walked into the Elmira detachment of Waterloo Regional Police Service.  She was looking for a role model for her special-needs son.  Read more…

Parenting a child with FASD doesn't involve any extra challenges, just different challenges [Canada]
"Every child comes with their own set of unique characteristics and this is a just a different set of challenges for that child," said Mary, a foster mother of five year who has cared for close to 20 children, including one now with FASD.  She likens it to having a baby with colic versus one without.  "So you just learn to parent differently.  You learn different parenting styles with that child."  Read more…

NLSD gives LCFASD support letter [Canada]
The Lakeland Centre for FASD (LCFASD) has received the support of the Northern Lights School Division (NLSD) board of trustees, via a letter, for a summer camp in the Cold Lake area.  LCFASD executive director Audrey McFarlane told trustees at their regular November 26 meeting that her organisation has done a lot of work, particularly in the area of diagnosis (with almost 750 children diagnosed since the organisation opened its doors) and providing outreach support to those with FASD and their families, as well as working in schools.   Read more…

Dr. Oz on FASD [USA]
Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen answer a question about alcohol consumption during pregnancy.  "The alcohol a mother drinks ALWAYS passes through the umbilical cord directly to the fetus. The brain of a fetus is quite vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol."  Read more…

Toronto author pens memoir about raising adopted son with fetal alcohol syndrome [Canada]
Linda Rosenbaum's son has not and will not read her newly released memoir.  Although his adoption and challenges with fetal alcohol syndrome are the main subjects of Not Exactly As Planned: A Memoir of Adoption, Secrets and Abiding Love, he doesn't read books, Rosenbaum says.  Rosenbaum and her husband, Robin Christmas, learned soon after entering parenthood that no child comes with a guarantee.  Read more…

Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in North Prompts New Bill [Canada]
The Liberals are looking to introduce a bill on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder after a near identical bill presented by Yukon Conservative MP Ryan Leef was stalled at committee for further study to define the disorder.  FASD is believed to be the leading cause of mental disability in Canada and is particularly prevalent in northern communities.  Read more…

Man sentenced to 60 days for assault with a weapon [Canada]
A developmentally delayed man with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder was handed a jail sentence for stabbing another man two months ago.  Carson Luke Small Eyes of Cardston pleaded guilty Friday in Lethbridge provincial court to one count of assault with a weapon and was sentenced to 60 days in jail. He won't serve any more jail time for the stabbing, however, after the judge gave him credit for time already spent in custody. Read more…

In Our View: Legislature's Hard Choices [USA]
Washington's Parent-Child Assistance Program can, in many ways, be viewed as an experiment in the typically complicated laboratory of state-funded social services.  Equally important, it can be viewed as the crux of an issue facing the Legislature in 2015.  As detailed in a recent article … the state-funded program teams advocates with high-risk mothers who abuse drugs and alcohol during pregnancy.  The goal of the home-visit intervention program is to prevent future alcohol- and drug-exposed births among the women who receive assistance.  Read more…

New initiative to help those with cognitive disabilities [Canada]
A new program is making it easier for those with cognitive disabilities to find a mentor.  The Prince Albert Mentorship program, run by co-ordinator Mark Zulkoskey, will work with individuals with the Cognitive Disability Strategy. "The purpose of the program was basically to fill a service gap that has existed in the past," Zulkoskey said. "When families with a child, youth or young adult with a cognitive disability requested a mentor to assist them in whatever purpose, typically the onus was on them to locate the mentor."  Read more…

Drinking when pregnant: Is it harmless or an act of denial? [Ireland]
With 80 per cent of women in Ireland admitting to drinking alcohol when pregnant, Aoife Stuart Madge asks if we are ignoring the risks. As a doctor and first-time mother, Maria 35, from County Down, wants to do everything in her power to give her 18-month-old son the best start in life. While pregnant, she read up on all the childcare and pregnancy manuals, baby-proofed her home and made sure the nursery was decked out in the very best baby gear. Controversially, she also drank - not excessively - but just a couple of glasses a week over dinner. "I enjoy unwinding with a glass of wine and didn't see why I had to sacrifice that just because I was pregnant," she says.  Read more… 

New study by UNC researchers finds higher percentage of alcohol-related birth disorders [USA]
For Zebulon resident Becky Brantley, FASD affects pretty much everything her son does on a day-to-day basis.  Brantley, who adopted a child with full fetal alcohol syndrome, said her son has struggled to come to terms with the depths of his disease.  "Since there is no cure for FASD an there are not a lot of present treatment for diagnosis, the biggest thing that we can do is provide accommodations and modify his environment so that the environment and his abilities are matched," Brantley said.  Read more…

Early Day Motion 629 – Foetal Alcohol Syndrome [UK]
On the 15th December 2014, the House of Commons tabled a motion, supported by 13 signatories, that notes the proven link between alcohol ingested during pregnancy and a wide range of health defects affecting the child upon birth, including brain damage, heart, kidney and liver damage and developmental problems; commends the work of groups such as the FASD Trust and FAS Aware in raising awareness of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome; further notes that there is no clear evidence that points to a minimum safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy; and calls for a holistic public health strategy focused on early intervention and encouraging no alcohol during pregnancy.  Read more…

Fairbanks hosts meetings about fetal alcohol syndrome, other rural issues [USA]
Earlier this year, a Fairbanks senator drew criticism and ridicule for this comments for a plan to put pregnancy tests in bars as a public awareness campaign against fetal alcohol syndrome.  But as Sen. Pete Kelly will tell you, that was only a small part of the overall plan to eradicate fetal alcohol syndrome in Alaska.  Last week, more than 130 people from Alaska Native communities throughout the state met in Fairbanks as part of an effort to bring together so-called "community doers" to discuss and collaborate on solutions to FAS and other problems facing Alaska.  Read more…

Temple's Goetzl to study alcohol's impact on fetal brain [USA]
Alcohol is the leading known preventable cause of developmental and physical birth defects in the United States, according to, but despite that, many women still drink during pregnancy(either knowingly – or before they know they are pregnant). About 1 in every 750 infants is born with fetal alcohol syndrome and another 40,000 with fetal alcohol effects. To help identify damage to the fetus earlier so that better intervention is possible, a research team at Temple University School of Medicine is developing a test to identify maternal blood biomarkers that can assess fetal neurodevelopment in the first and second trimesters. Read more…

Are pregnant women being given unduly harsh jail sentences? [USA]
Some judges are giving pregnant women "far harsher" sentences than men get for the same drug offenses, a study says.  And doctors are among those saying it has a chilling effect on prenatal care, which means they may do more harm than good for the babies these women are carrying.  "There are 17 states with laws that consider drug abuse during pregnancy a form of child abuse," wrote Emily Shire for The Daily Beast in an article that details what happened to a Wisconsin woman named Tamara Loertscher when she went to a clinic for a pregnancy test.  Incarceration and the threat of incarceration have proved to be ineffective in reducing the incidence of alcohol and drug abuse. Read more…

Jackson High's Brandan Gelo is growing through love of music [USA]
He's overcoming the odds to the beat of his own drum.  Brandan Gelo has broken the glass ceiling at Mill Creek’s Jackson High, exceeding expectations for special education students. Now, the school culture is changing as others follow the senior's lead. He was born on the streets of Seattle, with several serious medical problems from fetal alcohol syndrome. Unable to care for him, Brandan's birth mother, a victim of domestic violence who was homeless during her pregnancy, put him into foster care. Read more…

Barrow's first and only Superior Court judge set to retire [USA]
After more than three decades as Barrow's one and only Superior Court judge, Michael Jeffery is calling it quits.  Not that he has a choice.  His last day as judge in the community 320 miles above the Arctic Circle is December 28. Under state law, he is required to retire at age 70.  He has expended immeasurable energy and spent countless work hours addressing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.  FASD awareness grew nationwide shortly after Jeffery arrived in Barrow.  Read more…

Grandma's big love for little Jamil [USA]
Jamil Henley came into the word on June 4, 2012. He was born with a heart murmur, cerebral palsy and fetal alcohol syndrome.  Soon after birth, he suffered epileptic seizures that continue today. His first month was spent in the neonatal unit.  A sweet baby with big brown eyes and a wide smile, Jamil's life improved dramatically thanks to a grandmother's love and Kids In Distress. "If I didn't step in, Jamil wouldn't have made it to 2," said his grandmother, Sheila Hickson. Read more…
Latest Research
FASD Issue Papers from the Canada FASD Research Network provide a quick overview of recent research
The Canada FASD Research Network has developed a series of "issue papers" that provide a 2-3 page overview of a range of issues related to FASD based on the latest research.  Read more… 

Alcohol use before and during unwanted pregnancy 
S.C. Roberts, S.C. Wilsnack, D.G. Foster and K.L. Delucchi, Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research, 21 October 2014, doi: 10.1111/acer.12544
There is little information about pregnancy-related changes in alcohol use and factors contributing to changes among women with unwanted pregnancies.  This study describes changes in alcohol use from before pregnancy recognition to during pregnancy and identifies important predicators of alcohol use severity among women with unwanted pregnancies.  The proportion of the total sample drinking before pregnancy recognition is similar to national samples of women of childbearing age, while the proportion binge drinking appears higher.  Of women denied terminations, who were still pregnant, the proportion having quit is similar to other populations of pregnant women.  Read more… 

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy: A literature review
Research New Zealand 
The Health Promotion Agency (HPA) commissioned this literature review to find out:
- what is known about alcohol use during pregnancy among different groups of women
- what works to influence decisions to stop 
- what messages are best received and how.
The literature review explores research on the predictors of drinking alcohol during pregnancy and women’s knowledge of, and attitudes towards, drinking during pregnancy. The review also describes research on the development of primary prevention communication strategies, and highlights evaluated primary prevention communication strategies that have promoted awareness about the risks associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy and/or have encouraged women not to drink when pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Read more…

Glia and neurodevelopment: focus on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
M. Guizzetti, X. Zhang, C. Goeke and D.P. Gavin, Frontier Pediatrics, 11 November 2014, doi 10.3389/fped.2014.0023
During the last 20 years, new and exciting roles for glial cells in brain development have been described.  Moreover, several recent studies implicated glial cells in the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders including … Fetal Alcohol spectrum Disorders.  Abnormalities in glial cell development and proliferation and increased glial cell apoptosis contribute to the adverse effects of ethanol on the developing brain and it is becoming apparent that the effects of fetal alcohol are due, at least in part, to effect on glial cells affecting their ability to modulate neuronal development and function.  This review article describes the most significant recent findings pertaining the effects of ethanol on glial cells and their significance in the pathophysiology of FASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.  Read more…

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Notifications to the Western Australian Register of Developmental Anomalies
R.C. Mutch, R. Watkins and C. Bower, Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 20 November 2014, doi: 10.1111/jpc.12746
There is increasing attention on FASD in Australia, but there are limited data on their on their birth prevalence.  The aim on this study was to report on the birth prevalence of FASD in Western Australia.  Result showed that 210 cases of FASDs were identified: a birth prevalence of 0.26/1000 births. This demonstrated a twofold increase in FASD notifications in Western Australia over the last 30 years.  Read more…

Psychosocial Outcomes of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in Adulthood
J. Rangmar, A. Hjern, B. Vinnerljung, K. Stromland, M. Aronson and C. Fahlke, Pediatrics, 22 December 2014, doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-1915
Primary disabilities in children prenatally exposed to alcohol have a major impact on their daily life.  It is suggested that these issues persist into adulthood, but few studies have addressed the outcome in adults with prenatal exposure, especially those with FAS.  This study carried out a national register-based study of 79 adults with an FAS diagnosis, at a mean age of 32. Education, social adjustment, and mental health outcomes were analysed and compared with 3160 comparison individuals matched on age, gender and place of birth. The results show that Swedish children with FAS have quite diverse psychosocial outcomes in adulthood, considerably worse than for majority population peers. Potential risk and protective factors within the FAS group deserve study to enable development of effective interventions.  Read more… 
Upcoming Events
Remember to visit our events page on our website for a full listing of upcoming events. 

Attachment-focused Parenting: Create a PLACE with your Children - Webinar
DATE: 5th February 2015 – 7:00pm Central Time [11:00am AEST, Friday 6th February]
DETAILS: Secure parent-child attachments are essential to healthy child development, but often adoption can present challenges to the process.  Join world-renowned attachment expert Dr. Dan Hughes as he shares family-centred strategies using the PLACE framework (Playfulness, Love, Acceptance, Curiosity, Empathy).  For more information and registration, click here. 

GP Webinar – Helping your patients who are drinking at risky levels
DATE: 17th February 2015
DETAILS: 8:00pm AEDT Time
Alcohol kills 15 Australians every day, and 5,554 each year. It hospitalises 430 Australians daily, and 157,132 over the year. These harms are entirely preventable. GPs are uniquely placed to identify and intervene with patients whose alcohol use is hazardous through screening and brief interventions. Many GPs, however, are uncertain about how best to address this important issue with their patients.
This webinar provides the opportunity for GPs to ask questions on how to screen for and conduct brief interventions around risky drinking. General Practitioners and alcohol and drug specialists, Dr Hester Wilson and Dr Paul Grinzi, will explain the latest research in this area and offer practical advice on how GPs can reduce harmful drinking among their patients.  For more information and registration, click here
Invitation for presenters and Participants: FASD and the Law: A Conversation about Current Research, Best Practices, and Ethical Considerations – Vancouver, BC, Canada
DATE: 3rd March 2015
DETAILS: Recent events in legal arenas in the US, UK and Canada, hold promise for new approaches to FASD in the legal system but also raise ethical questions. As these moves are afoot, we are presented with a myriad of examples of FASD in the context of the law-practices that are both promising but also deeply challenging. This session will bring together those engaged in these practices, and, also, those who are interested in learning more. This session will facilitate a space for justice professionals and community workers to share ideas while also discussing a path forward on the difficult issues surrounding justice for those with FASD. This session welcomes presentations from those who have been researching, practicing and engaged in FASD and justice efforts.  For more information and registration, click here. 

The 6th International Conference on FASD – Research: Results and Relevance 2015 – Vancouver, BC, Canada
DATE: 4-7th March 2015
DETAILS:  This advanced level conference continues to bring together experts from multiple disciplines to share international research.  From pure science, to prevention, diagnosis and intervention across the lifespan, the conference will address the implications of this research and promote scientific/community collaboration.  It provides an opportunity to enhance understanding of the relationships between knowledge and research and critical actions related to FASD. This multicultural, interdisciplinary conference will be of interest to the following audiences: addictions; administrators; child welfare professionals, clinicians; community members; educators; elected officials; family members; policymakers; FASD specialists; health/mental health; justice; physicians; researchers; women’s service providers; and anyone interested in the field of FASD. For more information and registration, click here.  

6th Annual National Disability Summit – Melbourne
DATE: 18-19th March 2015
DETAILS: Disability reform is an extremely high-profile national issue with the NDIS expanding from its initial trial sites to additional sites in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT. Now in its sixth year, the National Disability Summit will offer updates and discussion around the trial sites to review how the rollouts are faring. In addition, it will bring together policy makers, researchers, consumers and advocacy groups to assess the transitional considerations for service providers and access issues for specific minority population groups.  Other key themes include: 
•Supporting Clients with Insight and Decision-Making Capacity
•Strengthening Family & Carer Support
•Integrating Mental Health into Disability reform
•Overcoming Barriers to Meaningful Participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with Disabilities
•Employment Services and Options
•Disability, Housing and Homelessness
Early Bird registration available till 6th February 2015 – save $220. 

FASD Training Course – London, UK
DATE: Starts 28th January 2015
DETAILS: New for 2015, this is an exclusive opportunity for social workers to learn more about the wide range of diagnoses amongst children and young people that could be caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol.  Debuting on Wednesday 28th January at the Holiday Inn, on Commercial Road in London (E1), the course is designed to educate social work practitioners about the necessary skills required to work with those affected by FASDs, as well as educating professionals about how to spot the potential signs and symptoms of the disorders.  The course will be led by reknowned specialist FASD educator, Liam Curran.  For more information and registration, click here.
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