The Loop - e-news

National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Australia.
[ Issue #19, March 2015 ]

More News
Dear Members & Supporters,
This month in “The Loop”
In this issue of The Loop we once again have an amazing list of FASD-related articles that have surfaced over the last month.  Every month there is an overwhelming amount of news, research and resources, so we often need to be selective in what we publish.  That being said, if you come across anything that you would deem of interest to our community, please forward it to Terri ([email protected]), as it may be something we have not yet seen!

Last month's poll question was: No alcohol in pregnancy is the wisest choice. Would this be the advice for partners too?
We received 8 responses - 3 said "Yes", 0 said "No", 3 said "It would be up to the couple to decide together." and 2 answered with "Other", both with suggestions that it would be a decision needing to be discussed before planning a pregnancy.

This month's question is: What, in your opinion, is the main reason women continue to drink in pregnancy?

A new addition to our website recently is our blog, Loopholes. The blog is still in its “infant” stages  but we are increasing the content added as regularly as possible.  In the past, articles of interest during the month have been posted to Facebook and/or Twitter, but we realise not everyone has social media accounts so to make this information even more accessible, we decided the blog was the best way to go.  We will gradually add more content as time goes on.

A reminder that we still have NOFASD Australia lapel pins available – donations of $2 or more will receive a pin and are tax deductible, so please consider supporting NOFASD Australia so that we may continue supporting individuals and families living with FASD.

Finally, the Staff and Board at NOFASD Australia wish you all a safe and happy Easter break.

Don’t forget to join us on Facebook and Twitter [@NOFASDAustralia].
And as always, please share the NOFASD Community newsletter with your family and friends.

Until next time,
Terri Baran
Social Media & Administration Officer

NOFASD Australia does not necessarily agree with the articles below.  They are provided for interest purposes only.
From My Desk...
As you may recall from last month, Adelle (our National Educator) and I had the opportunity to attend the International FASD Conference in Vancouver. The conference is held every second year and not only is the event an opportunity to learn more about fetal alcohol exposure and FASDs, it is an invaluable time for catching up with people, meeting new people and networking on a global scale. So many countries are now represented by presenters and delegates. We returned home with more ideas and increased enthusiasm.

As is the case each year, work activities increase from the beginning of March. Upcoming education and training events are now listed on the NOFASD Australia website. For parents you will find events here and for service providers. We welcome any community members interested in helping to organise other events, particularly if you notice we are visiting your area.

Last week I was in Narrabri, NSW for the CDAT regional Drug & Alcohol / Mental Health Conference. Approximately 60 people attended and listened to presentations made by Professor Elizabeth Elliiott and myself, the Australian Drug Foundation, and Marc Glanville from Good Sports. This is the third such event which has been followed discussion to develop a community FASD Action Plan. The Nowra-Shoalhaven, Newcastle CDAT and Goldfields WA are underway in the development and implementation of their plans. Other communities who recognise FASD prevention as something to be progressed should contact us. It is often said that 'it takes a community to raise a child' and these community initiatives are evident of what can be achieved when there is common ground.

In late 2013, a 'Call for Action' was circulated following the 1st Australasian FASD Conference in Brisbane. The document was developed at a pre-conference event, the first time parents have had a national meeting. This document is on the NOFASD Australia website and lists the following:

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.

I mention this document because it is the cornerstone of the need to progress the NOFASD Australia National Parent Advisory Group (NPAG) which I am pleased to announce is in the formative stage. Co-chaired by two parent representative NOFASD Australia Board members, the NPAG will be made up of one parent from each state and territory and provide the overarching structure for planned state and territory forums and volunteer support networks. The demand for support is evident from the conversations we have daily with parents/carers and service providers who are seeking information, support and often assessment for either their child/ren or for their clients. The lack of options for local support across the country indicates something needs to change. As in North America, it is often parents themselves who provide advocacy together with supportive professionals and/or community workers.  At the time the 'Call for Action' was drafted, one parent advised:

'No one can tell us more than we know' about FASD. As parents we are angry, frustrated, scared, worried, isolated, disbelieved, patronized, overlooked, and dismissed and want change.

Vicki Russell
[email protected]
Of Special Interest
Families and FASD Sibling Study
A request from Shelley L. Watson, Ph.D. from Laurentian University [Sudbury, Ontario]
Siblings with no diagnosis of FASD between the ages of 6 to adult, from all geographical areas, are asked to participate.

"I am contacting you in regards to a new study that is being conducted to expand the family component of researching the experience of families living with an individual diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Whereas the [previous] study ... focused on parent's perspectives of parenting their child with FASD, this component is specifically looking at the sibling's experience of living with a brother or sister diagnosed with FASD.

When looking at results from the [other] study..., 98% of parents of individuals with FASD responded "true" to the question "I worry about what will happen to ______ when I can no longer take care of him or her" expressing concern for your child’s caregiving future. Other studies have also shown that in adulthood many siblings anticipate greater caregiving responsibilities of their sibling with a developmental disability as their parents and take on the role of primary caregivers once parents are no longer able to do so. With that said, we recognize that siblings play an important role when there is a disability in the family, which means that it is not only the well-being of the one individual that is affected, but rather all members including the sibling. In this study we recognize the importance of that sibling having a voice and being able to express their concern, which could alleviate some emotional or psychological stress. But looking at the bigger picture, knowing where siblings are struggling and where they are flourishing will allow the clinicians to tailor supports and provide siblings with the tools to create mutual growth and development, as these individuals may become a long-term caregiver for their sibling with a disability. 

Siblings who will be participating in our study are required to have no diagnosis of FASD. Siblings between the ages of 6 to adult are asked to participate. During their participation, they will be asked to participate in a 30-minute to one-hour interview (for younger participants, children will be asked to draw a picture of their sibling) as well as complete 2 questionnaires that will take approximately 15 minutes. They can opt out of the study at any time and all of the information will be kept confidential, as stated on the consent forms. The interview will take place either in person or via telephone or Skype if an interview in person is not possible. Participants will be mailed the questionnaires and a stamped envelope will be provided in order to return the questionnaires to me.

If your child would like to participate in the study or of you would like further information, please contact Shelley Watson, Ph.D. via e-mail at [email protected] or call 705-675-1151, extension 4223. If your child is unable to participate, please pass on this information to anyone you think would be interested. I would also love to share some of the findings of our previous studies, results that have been very well received and are hopefully helping to inform family supports. 

Thank you in advance for your time. I look forward to hearing from you soon."

Associate Professor, Psychology Department
Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Health Master's Program
Laurentian University [Sudbury, Ontario]
National & NZ News and Media
Baird pledges $2.3 million to fight fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, new centre
NSW will open the first Australian centre dedicated to diagnosing and treating children damaged by their mother's drinking during pregnancy, under an election commitment from the Liberal government.  The new clinic will be run at Westmead Children's Hospital, where a successful pilot program is already being run.  Read more...

Not One More – NSW political party responses to NAAPA Election Platform
On 8 January 2015, the NSWACT Alcohol Policy Alliance (NAAPA) wrote to the leaders and party secretaries of six political parties and two independents contesting the New South Wales (NSW) state election in March 2015.  The letter asked recipients to respond to 15 questions on alcohol policy, based on the NAAPA Election Platform Not One More.  Read more...   

Close the Gap – James Fitzpatrick
James Fitzpatrick discusses the plight that communities in the Fitzroy Valley have faced, the outcomes they insisted upon, and the next generation who have been affected.

Efforts to overcome fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
Researchers at Telethon Kids Institute are working with Aboriginal community leaders in the Fitzroy Valley to eradicate fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.  A new report by Telethon Kids Institute researcher, paediatrician and McCusker Clinical Research Fellow Dr James Fitzpatrick ... revealed one in eight children born in 2002 or 2003 in the Fitzroy Valley have FAS.  This is one of the highest rates in the world.  Read more...  

Bar's decision to refuse pregnant woman wine divides opinion [NZ]
A decision to refuse a heavily pregnant woman alcohol at a popular Auckland bar has divided opinion, while Ministry of Health statistics show one in five woman drink while pregnant.  Nichola Hayes, who is 36 weeks pregnant with her second child, was refused an alcoholic drink during a wedding anniversary night out at Newmarket's Brew Bar.  Read more...

'No such thing as safe amount of alcohol for a pregnant woman' – expert weighs in [NZ]
Pregnant women should abstain from alcohol completely because there is no clear information indicating a safe amount for consumption, an expert says.  Christine Rogan from the Foetal Alcohol Network says the recent case of a woman being denied a drink in an Auckland bar highlights how much mis-information there is on the issue.  Read more...
‘Daisy’ App
Domestic and family violence affects one in three Australian women, and sexual assault affects one in five women over the age of 15. Daisy connects women who are experiencing or have experienced sexual assault, domestic and family violence to services in their state and local area.  Daisy provides women with an easy way to find a wide range of services.  Read more...  

The Mother-Child Study: Evaluating Treatments for Substance-Using Women
Mothercraft's Breaking the Cycle (BTC) in Toronto is one of Canada's first prevention and early intervention programs for pregnant women and mothers who are substance-involved and their young children.  The program's goal is to reduce risk and enhance the development of substance-exposed children by addressing maternal substance use problems and the mother-child relationship.  Read more... 

Practical strategies and support for families affected by FASD
Mary Berube (MSW, RSW) provides practical suggestions about what parents can do to strengthen their relationships with their children affected by FASD to give the children the best start in life.  This session is part of the Government of Alberta's 10-year plan to address Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). This free learning series is ideal for caregivers, social workers, medical professionals and anyone wanting to learn about FASD.  Watch the video... – Alcohol & Pregnancy: Tips on Why and How to Stop Drinking Alcohol
Provides an easy-to-read outline of the risks of alcohol to an unborn child, and provides advice on how to stop drinking during pregnancy.  Also links to other useful resources.  Read more...

Proven and Promising Interventions for Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders – NOFAS Recorded Webinar
Approx. 1 hour webinar presentation by Jacquelyn Bertrand, PhD.  Watch the video... 

8 Magic Keys: Strategies for Students with FASD
A short 21-minute animated video that introduces the topic of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). It demonstrates key strategies that have been proven to help students who experience brain-based disorders become more successful in school and life. Scenarios depicted in this video represent both secondary and elementary situations.  Join Mario as he talks about what it is like to live with an FASD. Mario collects all of the 8 Magic Keys with the support of friends, educators and family.
USD$20 plus shipping. 

Five Things Teachers Need to Know [About FASD]
A helpful list for teachers about FASD students. 
International News and Media

​Senate passes alcohol and pregnancy bill [USA]
On Monday [23rd March], the Arkansas Senate unanimously passed the Alcohol and Pregnancy Awareness Act. Arkansans rallied on the steps of the state capitol on Monday urging lawmakers to pass the bill. Senate Bill 785 would allow for warning signage to be posted at any business that sells alcohol on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  Read more...

Mother of girl with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder backs 'no booze' guidelines during pregnancy [UK]
A North-East family has backed calls for consistent Government guidelines urging women to avoid drinking alcohol altogether when pregnant.  Linda Venus, who has a daughter with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), is supporting calls from campaigners for clearer advice on how much alcohol women can drink when pregnant.  Read more... 

Recognizing FASD as a mitigating factor [Canada]
In its Reaching Equal Justice report released in August 2013, the CBA noted the impact of not having access of justice for marginalized people, which includes those with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).  Tomorrow [11 March 2015], Fia Jampolsky, of Whitehorse, is appearing on behalf of the CBA before the House of Commons Standing Committee on justice and Human Rights as part of study on the subject matter of Bill C-583, a Private Member’s Bill, sponsored by Yukon MP Ryan Leef, that would amend the Criminal Code to formally recognize FASD.  Read more...  

Extreme Rate of Prenatal Alcohol Disorders in Poor [USA]
The prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders associated with prenatal alcohol exposure (ND-PAE) is extreme in low-income patients, new research suggests.  A study of 611 low-income, mainly African American, psychiatric outpatients attending a single family medicine clinic on Chicago's South Side between May 2013 and January 2014 showed that 39% had clinical profiles consistent with ND-PAE.  Read more...

Alcohol Use Linked To Both Lower Socioeconomic Status And Genetic Vulnerability [USA]
What factors influence how much alcohol you drink? A new study finds that a genetic disposition or environment does not exert the exact same effects on everyone.  Instead, these influences may be stronger or weaker, depending on social context.  Specifically, low socioeconomic environments trigger genetic vulnerabilities to alcohol, while high status environments seem to moderate any natural susceptibility.  Read more... 

Effort to warn women about alcohol during pregnancy [USA]
A media campaign is set to launch in March that is aimed at reducing the number of children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Alaska.  A study also is planned that is expected to involve signs and pregnancy-test dispensers in bars, to test their effectiveness in raising awareness about the potential implications of drinking while pregnant.  Read more... 

New warning over booze in pregnancy: Half a glass of wine 'could stop some babies breathing' [UK]
Pregnant women are being urged not to drink at all after a study found that just half a glass of wine can stop their baby breathing and moving for up to two hours.  The research, which reveals the dangers of just one unit of alcohol, flies in the face of NHS guidelines. These imply it is safe for pregnant women to continue drinking as long as it is not more than one or two units, once or twice a week.  Read more... 

Mom pushing lawmakers for pregnancy birth defects signs, AHA against it [USA]
A mom is asking lawmakers to make sure a new Alcohol and Pregnancy Awareness Act becomes law.  This bill would require businesses that sell alcoholic beverages that are consumed on site to display a pregnancy warning sign.  Christina Ray tells Channel 7 that her adopted daughter suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder because her biological mother drank while pregnant.  Read more... 

Province has no strategy for dealing with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder [Canada]
Operating on a shoestring, the region's only comprehensive team to diagnose kids with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) runs out of money at the end of March.  More than 190 children – from Windsor to Owen Sound to Brantford – are looking to be assessed through the London Region FASD Assessment Clinic.  But the team has funding for just 12 assessments a year, and that cash runs out within weeks. Read more...

Is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome a Valid Criminal Defense? [USA]
Defendants with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders have used their conditions to argue for more lenient sentences, but some high-profile trials raise questions about the validity of this type of defense.  Read more...

Law to help combat fetal alcohol syndrome not passed [USA]
A Williamsburg [Iowa] boy has fetal alcohol syndrome, because his mother drank during her pregnancy.  Because of that, he and his adoptive parents have a very difficult road ahead of them.  March of Dimes took the lead on legislation to try to increase awareness among the dangers of drinking while pregnant, but that legislation didn't get anywhere.  Read more...

Announcing a Unique Holistic Approach to Rehab for Pregnant Women at New Directions for Women [USA]
Though the dangers of combining pregnancy with chemical dependency are well known, the all-too-common nature of the problems this deadly combination causes has spurred the womens-only rehab facility New Directions for Women to take a unique female- and family-oriented approach. According to the non-profit facility, their 33 year history as a womens-only treatment program "drives us to be especially concerned" when it comes to addictions and pregnancy. Read more...

Prisons falling behind in treating fetal alcohol cases: Sapers [Canada]
Prisons are doing a poor job of treating inmates afflicted with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers told a justice and human rights committee Monday afternoon. "The unfortunate reality is that most FASD-affected offenders come into prison undiagnosed and untreated and they remain that way," said Sapers.  Read more...

'We were prisoners in our own home' [USA]
You’re afraid of me, Malachi Cole told his parents. Then 9 years old, Malachi feigned throwing something gripped in his hand. His parents flinched. "See, you are," Malachi said triumphantly. John and Diane Cole tried to hide it from their son, but they were scared. The Bartholomew County couple adopted Malachi from the foster care system in February 2008, when he was 3 years old. Read more... 

Where is Baby Thomas? South African newspaper article draws ire of opposition leader [South Africa]
"Baby Thomas never had a chance," begins a South African newspaper report about the toll of fetal alcohol syndrome.  The baby's alcoholic mother was a grape harvester who was paid in bottles of wine, it said.  Questions have been raised about the Cape Times article that was published this month and it has set off a divisive debate about media and politics in post-apartheid South Africa.  Read more...

A new Éduc'alcool publication in time for International Women's Day: Women under more pressure than men and more vulnerable to the effects of excessive drinking [Canada]
Women are more vulnerable than men to the effects of alcohol because of differences in their weight and body composition, and the way they metabolize alcohol.  However, social norms, not biology, are the primary reason why women who drink too much are more vulnerable to physical and sexual violence.  These are the main conclusions of the latest publication in the Alcohol and Health series from Éduc'alcool, which is being release in time for International Women's Day.

North East expectant mums should be warned against drinking any alcohol during pregnancy [UK]
Health bosses from across the North East today [3rd March 2015] called on the Government to warn expectant mothers against drinking any alcohol during pregnancy.  It comes as figures show that one in every 100 babies is affected by Foetal Alcohol Syndrome [sic] Disorder, a devastating condition inflicted by the mother on her unborn child.  Read more...

When Pregnant Women Drink: The families living with FASD [UK]
An ITV documentary investigating the impact of drinking alcohol in pregnancy exposes the challenges families face when a child develops Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Here are the stories of three women whose lives have been affected by the disorder.  Read more...

Asante message spreading [Canada]
A judge from Western Australia and a director of a health agency from Poland, agreed on one thing Tuesday.  Banning booze advertising could cut consumption and reduce the number of kids living with alcohol-damaged brains. Stop those ad and you'll stop alcohol companies from recruiting the younger generation of drinkers, which could include pregnant moms.  Read more...

State-funded pregnancy test dispensers debut in Anchorage [USA]
Inside the women's bathroom at the Peanut Farm Bar and Grill, a dispenser hangs on the wall with a sign that reads: "Remember the last time you had sex?" The text below: "Take a pregnancy test before you drink tonight."  At the touch of a green button, a free pregnancy test drops to the bottom of the dispenser. Nearby are free condoms.  Read more...

'I thought Guinness was GOOD for him': Mother’s grief at damaging son’s brain with pregnancy drinking.... as doctors push for a total booze ban for expectant mums [UK]
Pregnant women may be putting their unborn babies at risk thanks to conflicting advice on how much alcohol it's safe to drink while expecting.  One in 100 babies are born in Britain each year brain-damaged with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), ITV documentary Exposure: When Pregnant Women Drink reveals this week – and many mothers may be unwittingly putting their babies at risk because they've been led to believe it's okay to drink one or two units a week.  Read more...

Motivational speaker doesn’t hide from FASD [Canada]
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is often described as a hidden or invisible disability, however, FASD was front and centre last week as the Interlake Eastern Regional Health Authority (IERHA) hosted a conference.  Myles Himmelreich has FASD, but that didn't stop him from standing in front of at least 120 people during the first session at the conference.  Read more...

'Golden' special needs runner inspires others [USA]
Talking to a gymnasium filled with teenagers would be daunting to most people, yet Andrew Peterson can walk up to the podium and speak with passion and conviction like a pro.  But Peterson isn't like most people – he's one of a kind.  Peterson shared his moving story of how he went from a baby born with brain damage and a diagnosis of FAS to becoming a three-time gold medalist in the Special Olympics.  Read more...

Experts Spread Message About 'Preventable Birth Defects' on First-Ever World Birth Defects Day [USA]
"Many potentially devastating birth defects can be prevented." That's the message leading researchers in the field want the public to know as the world prepares for the inaugural "World Birth Defects Day" which will take place on Tuesday March 3.  The commemorative day is being spearheaded by international maternal and infant health advocates.  Read more...

Bill seeks to expand help for moms struggling with addiction [USA]
Katie Seaver knows what it's like to be given another chance.  In 2012, she got her third drunken driving conviction and spent a month in jail.  Then she got pregnant.  The Rochester mom-to-be enrolled in the Olmstead County's CRAFT program to get help staying sober while she was expecting.  The program was critical in her recovery, enabling her to give birth to a healthy baby and stay sober for two years. Read more...

Two counties earmarked for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder prevention grants [USA]
Living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder has been difficult for Peter Lorentz, a third-grader from Mankato.  "This is an invisible disease, but I am not invisible," the 9 year old told the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee, which was considering a bill Tuesday to fund alcohol prevention programs for pregnant women.  Read more...

Alcohol syndrome orphans appeal for assistance [Namibia]
Reginald Rolse (16) and Ronelda "Queen" Saron (14), siblings from Okahandja Park, lost their mother to alcohol related illness in 2005.  The children are now being raised by a family friend, Lucricia Kapuka, who says she has received calls from Saron's teacher informing her that the girl is not coping well in class because of her condition [FAS].  Read more...

More black moms-to-be boozing [South Africa]
Economically marginalised black women have been identified as a new risk group for drinking during pregnancy.  This is according to a research study done in Kimberley, Northern Cape, by the Foundation for Alcohol-Related Research (FARR).  Leana Olivier, CEO of FARR, said the research was done in in Galeshewe and Roodepan, which are areas predominantly populated by black people.  Read more...

FASD Is Completely Avoidable, So Why Are So Many Children Born With It? [USA]
As reported this week by The Daily Mail, mothers such as Sam were led to believe, during their pregnancies, that alcoholic drinks ... were good for their child considering their iron content.  Like many mothers, a lack of information available at that time regarding what was and wasn't suitable has resulted in some children suffering from FASD.  Read more...
Latest Research
The Burden and Economic Impact of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Canada
S. Popova, S. Lange, L. Burd and J. Rehm, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, February 2015
The study aimed to estimate the overall burden and cost associated with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in Canada in 2013. FASD is a group of disorders caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.
This study was conducted within the framework of the revised International Guidelines for Estimating the Costs of Substance Abuse (Single et al., 2003) and can be characterized as a cost-of-illness study. In addition, the guidelines generated during the first National Roundtable held by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC, 2008) were also employed, and the methodologies of the few existing studies on the economic cost of FASD from Canada and the United States were taken into consideration. Read more...

Effect of boric acid on oxidative stress in rats with fetal alcohol syndrome
I. Sogut, A. Oglakci, K. Kartkaya, K.K. Ol, M.S. Sogut, G. Kanbak and M.E. Inal, Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 30 December 2014, doi: 10.3892/etm.2014.2164
To the best of the researchers' knowledge, this is the first study concerning the effect of boric acid (BA) administration on fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).  In this study, the aim was to investigate prenatal alcohol-induced oxidative stress on the cerebral cortex of newborn rat pups and assess the protective and beneficial effects of BA supplementation on rats with FAS.  Pregnant rats were divided into three groups, namely the control, alcohol, and alcohol + boric acid groups.  The results demonstrate that alcohol is capable of triggering damage to membranes of the cerebral cortex of rat pups and BA could be influential in antioxidant mechanisms against oxidative stress resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure.  Read more... 

Prenatal alcohol exposure and adolescent stress increase sensitivity to stress and gonadal hormone influences on cognition in adult female rats
W.L. Corneau, K. Lee, K. Anderson and J. Weinberg, Physiology & Behavior, 21 February 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.02.033
Abnormal activity of stress hormone (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal [HPA]) and gonadal hormone (hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal [HPG]) systems is reported following prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE).  PAE increases vulnerability of brain regions involved in regulation of these systems to stressors or challenges during sensitive periods of development, such as adolescence. In this study, adolescent female PAE and control offspring were exposed to 10 days of chronic mild stress (CMS) and cognititve function was assessed on the radial arm maze (RAM) in adulthood.  Results suggest that PAE increases sensitivity to the influences of stress and gonadal hormones on cognition, and thus, in turn, that HPA and HPG dysregulation may underlie some of the deficits in executive function described previously in PAE females. Read more...

Endogenous opioids as substrates for ethanol intake in the neonatal rat: The impact of prenatal ethanol exposure on the opioid family in the early postnatal period
K. Bordner and T. Deak, Physiology & Behavior, 7 February 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.phybeh.2015.02.013
Despite considerable knowledge that prenatal ethanol exposure can lead to devastating effects on the developing fetus, alcohol consumption by pregnant women remains strikingly prevalent.  Both clinical and basic research has suggested that, in addition to possible physical, behavioural, and cognitive deficits, gestational exposure to alcohol may lead to an increased risk for the development of later alcohol-related use and abuse disorders.  Results suggest that, while continuing to undergo ontogenetic changes, the infant brain is sensitive to prenatal ethanol exposure and that such exposure may lead to relatively long-lasting changes in the endogenous opioid system within the reward circuitry. Read more...

Volume changes and brain-behavior relationships in white matter and subcortical gray matter in children with prenatal alcohol exposure
P. Gautam, C. Lebel, K.L. Narr, S.N. Mattson, P.A. May, C.M. Adnams, E.P. Riley, K.L. Jones, E.C. Kan and E.R. Sowell, Human Brain Mapping, 25 February 2015, doi: 10.1002/hbm.22772
Children with prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) may have cognitive, behavioural and brain abnormalities.  Here, we compare rates of white matter and subcortical gray matter volume change in PAE and control children, and examine relationships between annual volume change and arithmetic ability, behaviour, and executive function. Results showed that subjects with PAE had smaller volumes than control subjects across the brain.  In contrast with previous results demonstrating different trajectories of cortical volume change in PAE, our results show similar rates of subcortical volume growth in subjects with PAE and control subjects.  The results are encouraging in that, due to the stable volume differences, there may be an extended window of opportunity for intervention in children with PAE.

Clinical Sensitivity and Specificity of Meconium Fatty Acid Ethyl Ester, Ethyl Glucuronide, and Ethyl Sulfate for Detecting Maternal Drinking during Pregnancy
S.K. Himes, K.A. Dukes, T. Tripp, J.M. Petersen, C. Raffo, L. Burd, H. Odendaal, A.J. Elliott, D. Hereld, C. Signore, M. Willinger and M.A. Huestis for the Prenatal Alcohol In SIDS and Stillbirth (PASS) Network, Clinical Chemistry, 16 January 2015, doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2014.233718
The researchers investigated agreement between self-reported prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and objective meconium alcohol markers to determine the optimal meconium marker and threshold for identifying PAE. Meconium fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE), ethyl glucuronide (EtG), and ethyl sulfate (EtS) were quantified by LC-MS/MS in 0.1g meconium from infants of Safe Passage Study participants.  Detailed PAE information was collected from women with a validated timeline follow-back interview. Results suggest maternal alcohol consumption at >19 weeks was better represented by meconium EtG >30 ng/g than currently used FAEE cutoffs.  Read more...

Dissecting FASD Through the Global Transcriptome
F.C. Zhou, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 19 February 2015, doi: 10.1111/acer.12655
It remains unanswered whether and how certain adverse environmental effects during pregnancy alter the developmental trajectory of the offspring, casting a temporary, long, and/or irreversible deficit into adult life.  Drinking during pregnancy has been known to result in a wide range of outcomes including growth retardation, facial dysmorphology, brain undergrowth, and learning deficits collectively known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).  More common (approximately 10 times), however, are incidences in which the cardinal features of FAS (such as dysmorphic facial features) are not distinguishable and in which the range of abnormalities vary – now categorically classified as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

Prenatal alcohol exposure selectively enhances young adult perceived pleasantness of alcohol odors
J.H. Hannigan, L.M. Chiodo, R.J. Sokol, J. Janisse and V. Delany-Black, Physiology & Behavior, 17 January 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.01.019
Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) can lead to life-long neurobehavioral and social problems that can include a greater likelihood of early use and/or abuse of alcohol compared to older teens and young adults without PAE. The researchers hypothesized that PAE would be related to poorer abilities to identify odors of alcohol-containing beverages, and would alter perceived alcohol odor intensity and pleasantness. To address this hypothesis, responses to alcohol were examined in a small sample of young adults with detailed prenatal histories of exposure to alcohol and other drugs. The key finding from our controlled analyses is that higher levels of PAE were related to higher relative ratings of pleasantness for alcohol odors. There are potential implications of altered alcohol odor responses for understanding individual differences in initiation of drinking, and alcohol seeking and high-risk alcohol-related behaviors in young adults. Read more...

Behavior During the Prenatal Period: Adaptive for Development and Survival
P. Hepper, Child Development Perspectives, 10 February 2015, doi: 10.1111/cdep.12104
Experiences during the prenatal period affect development significantly in the long term. Prenatal exposure to teratogens (e.g., alcohol) permanently affects the structure and function of individuals' organs, as well as individuals' behaviour. The fetal origins hypothesis demonstrates how the functioning of body organs is programmed by conditions in the womb to enable the individual to survive when born into an environment of similar conditions (e.g., preparing the individual for an environment of poor nutrition). The fetal origins hypothesis shows how the prenatal environment exerts an adaptive influence on the fetus, preparing it for life after birth.
Upcoming Events
Remember to visit our events page on our website for a full listing of upcoming events. 

Ounce of Prevention 2015: Working Together for Healthier Communities – Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
DATE: 7th April 2015
DETAILS: A statewide conference designed to bring together a wide range of stakeholders in support of healthier and more equitable communities in Massachusetts.  This event is scheduled to take place on April 7, 2015 at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA.  For more information or to register, click here. 

Webinar: Supporting Individuals with an FASD Across the Life Span
DATE: 17th April 2015, 12.00pm – 1.30pm Central Standard Time (4.00am – 5.30am AEST)
DETAILS: Presented by Kathy Hotelling.  This informational webinar will explain the common limitations of traditional supports as well as methods to “think outside the box”.  Kathy’s mix of personal experience with professional expertise provides a great resource for professionals and caregivers. For more information or to register, click here.

FASD Justice Forum May 2015 – New Zealand
DATE: 19th and 22nd May 2015
DETAILS: Planning is underway for an FASD Justice Forum on the morning of  Tuesday 19th May in Auckland and Friday 22 May in Whangarei.  Invited guest speaker is West Australian Children’s Magistrate, Judge Catherine Crawford.  Coming directly from visiting services in the USA and Canada, Judge Crawford will share aspects of her investigations into advances being made in this field as well as in Australia and NZ.  She will be joined by local FASD experts.  The Forums will be of particular interest to those working with vulnerable children and adolescents at increased risk of being in trouble with the law.  The time, venue and any cost will be announced shortly.  Meantime you are welcome to forward your expressions of interest in attending to [email protected].

Save The Date:  National Acquired Brain Injury Conference – Melbourne, Australia
DATE: 13-14th August 2015
FASD Caregiver Support Group – Orewa, New Zealand
DATE: Every third Tuesday of the month, 7-9pm
Venue: Hibiscus Coast Youth Centre  
Cost: FREE – Tea/Coffee/Biscuits provided. 
FASD-CAN in conjunction with, aDapt Family Solutions, are hosting a regional FASD Carer Support Group.  The purpose is to build connections and information for those living with FASD or suspect their child has FASD but may not have a formal diagnosis. 
For further information please contact Lee Tempest 021 176 8220 or Paula Atherley-Downing 021318879.
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