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Research suggests that early identification and intervention is linked to improved psychosocial and behavioural outcomes, although many people are not diagnosed until adulthood, if at all (National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, 2013).

FASD is not always seen at birth and often can be found in children, young people and adults who have not previously been diagnosed.

It can present as:

  • structural impairments, such as a small head
  • functional impairments – physical, cognitive, behavioural and learning difficulties
  • birth defects such as heart and eye problems.

It is believed between 2% and 5% of infants in Australia may be affected. FASD can impact anyone, regardless of income or culture. However, in some marginalised Indigenous communities the prevalence may be as high as 12% (AMA, 2016).

If FASD is unmanaged, it can lead to secondary effects including:

  • difficulty accessing education and gaining employment
  • substance abuse
  • mental illness
  • lack of independence
  • interaction with the justice system.

There is no safe limit of alcohol consumption for women during pregnancy.

Australian Medical Association [AMA] (2016). Position Statement Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Burns, L., Breen, C., Bower, C. et al. (2013). Counting fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in Australia: the evidence and the challenges. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2013 Sep 32 (5):461-7. Doi: 10.1111/dar.12047.

Further information:
FASD Hub Australia: understanding-fasd/what-is-fasd/