Category Archives: Uncategorized

High price for drinking when pregnant

SCCZEN_A_150208NZHSBSUSANPARKER2_620x310

Families and caregivers struggling to cope with young people affected by foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) gathered in Whangarei recently to learn more about the disorder, to share their experiences and call for help.

FASD refers to the range of disabilities that can occur when a developing foetus is exposed to alcohol during pregnancy. More than 200 people attending the workshops to learn more about the special needs of its victims, from both clinical and caregiver perspectives.

Many caregivers expressed frustration that FASD was not recognised in its own right as a disability warranting financial support. The hui heard that even when FASD was professionally diagnosed, which it seldom was, a young person would typically also have to be diagnosed with another intellectual problem to be eligible for disability-related support.

Experts and caregivers also voiced concerns that many agencies they dealt with had not been trained in how to respond to young people they suspected of having FASD.

FASD Centre Aotearoa clinical director Dr Valerie McGinn, who has had disabled children within her own family, spoke of how alcohol affected foetal development, and discussed research into New Zealand’s particularly high rates of women drinking while pregnant (resulting in up to 3000 children born with FASD every year).

Consuming alcohol during pregnancy could result in brain damage, as well as health and behavioural issues that could persist for life. Many would need lifetime support just to cope with everyday tasks, she said.

Hui organiser and Northland DHB health promotion adviser Dave Hookway said services to assess children suspected of having FASD had increased in Northland in recent years. If a paediatrician’s diagnosis wasn’t clear, children would be referred to the multi-disciplinary Complex Development Assessment Clinic.

Northland DHB Child Health Centre clinical team leader Karen Faber said that while FASD was not specifically recognised as a disability eligible for financial support, diagnostic teams were currently absorbing comprehensive assessments within their existing funding allocation, bringing increasing pressure to bear on service delivery by Child Health Services and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Addiction Service Te Roopu Kimiora.

Retrieved from:  http://www.nzherald.co.nz/northland-age/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503402&objectid=11846057

Intervention for children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders has biggest impact on parents

fea-fasdOften the behavior of children with FASD is misunderstood, says Christie Petrenko of the University’s Mt. Hope Family Center. “Many of their disabilities, including difficulties with executive skills like impulsivity control, processing sensory information, problem solving, and following multiple-step instruction – can result in behavior that often looks disruptive, or oppositional, when in fact it’s a reflection of their underlying neurodevelopmental disabilities.”

A new pilot study, conducted by the University of Rochester’s Mt. Hope Family Center, finds that children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and their families benefit from a multi-component intervention. Children who received the intervention showed lower levels of anxiety and modest, but significant, gains in their ability to control emotions better. The biggest change, however, came in the parents’ understanding of their children’s disabilities and their improved ability to respond to their children’s needs.

“The biggest impact is the effect on parents,” says Christie Petrenko, a research psychologist at the University of Rochester’s Mt. Hope Family Center and the lead author of the study.

Intervention Outcomes for Children with FASD and their Families

bar chart showing changes in child's behavior problems, ability to control emotions, enxiety levle, family feels supported, ability to interpret child's behavior, and confidence in own parenting ability.

“The intervention really helps parents understand their children’s behavior and lets them understand why their kids are the way they are.”

Before the intervention, says Petrenko, “parents felt they were often just pulling at straws” – guessing at what might work best. “After program completion, having been given these tools, they feel more confident in their parenting approach.”

People with FASD are at increased risk for developing costly and debilitating problems if the underlying disability is not recognized. Primary disabilities manifest themselves in problems with executive functioning, which includes skills such as information processing, emotion regulation, impulse control, and task planning, as well as social and adaptive skills.

When these primary disabilities are not addressed, people with FASD are at high risk for secondary problems, such as mental health issues, behaving disruptively at school or dropping out, abusing illegal substances, getting into trouble with the law, and being incarcerated. They often have difficulty holding down a job and living independently. Nationwide, estimates for the number of people with FASD range from 1 percent to 4.8 percent.

The Rochester pilot tested a multi-component intervention ­– called the Families on Track Integrated Preventive Intervention Program – to try to avoid those secondary problems, and to improve the way affected families respond to their children. The study is published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Often the behavior of children with FASD is misunderstood, says Petrenko. “Many of their disabilities, including difficulties with executive skills like impulsivity control, processing sensory information, problem solving, and following multiple-step instruction – can result in behavior that often looks disruptive, or oppositional, when in fact it’s a reflection of their underlying neurodevelopmental disabilities.”

The pilot program is designed to help parents, caregivers, and teachers accurately understand the child’s neurodevelopmental weaknesses as well as their strengths, and to put more effective accommodations into place, adds Petrenko.

The caregivers and parents who received the multi-component intervention experienced medium to large effects on their ability to interpret the children’s behavior correctly, finding social support, and taking care of themselves. They also reported feeling more confident in their parenting. The researchers observed medium-sized improvements in both groups when it came to reducing the children’s disruptive behavior.

The study included 30 children with FASD, aged four through eight, and their primary caregivers. The researchers randomized the families to either the Families on Track program, or an active control group that received neuropsychological assessments and personalized community referrals only.

The pilot, funded by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, builds on earlier research that looked at program characteristics most helpful to parents and caregivers of children with FASD, and problems families face in accessing relevant services, which can make it harder to prevent secondary conditions.

The next step, Petrenko says, is a larger sample, randomized control trial of the Families on Track program.

Retrieved from:  http://www.rochester.edu/newscenter/intervention-for-children-with-fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorder-has-biggest-impact-on-parents-228702/

No alcohol is safe at any stage of pregnancy

Dr-Mary-OMahony-SON1042_0087_620x330

‘I believe we all know someone with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder’

Doctors need to send out a clear and consistent message that there is “no safe amount and no safe time” during pregnancy in which to consume alcohol, the IMO AGM was advised.

Dr. Mary O’Mahony, Specialist in Public Health Medicine at the HSE, told attendees in Galway that consuming alcohol during pregnancy was causing foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), and that Ireland was one of the top five countries with the highest estimated prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy.

“In Ireland, I believe we all know someone with FASD,” commented Dr. O’Mahony, who proposed a motion last Friday — which was successfully passed — that the IMO encourage doctors to take the necessary steps to educate and empower women to abstain from alcohol throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, to prevent the occurrence of FAS and FASD.

While she said there were specific characteristics of FAS that could be recognisable at birth, those with FASD were “perfectly normal at birth”, and might only be identified once they entered the educational system.

The traits associated with FASD, she added, included issues such as attention deficits, memory deficits, difficulty with abstract concepts like maths, difficulty recognising the consequences of their actions, poor judgement, or confused social skills.

At an education session on FASD the previous evening (April 20), Dr. O’Mahony said it was estimated that 600 babies were born with FAS in Ireland each year, with an estimated 40,000 people living with the condition in this country. Some 80 per cent of Irish women pregnant for the first time also reported consuming some alcohol in pregnancy.

“Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a permanent disability called foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The consequences are induced brain damage which is permanent and is associated with physical, mental, educational, social and behavioural difficulties.”

Children born with FAS can show the following: a 50 per cent level of development that is normal at preschool; all can have severe brain dysfunction at age 10; 10 per cent have attention problems at age five; 60 per cent have attention problems at 10 years; yet only 30 per cent have IQ below normal. However, the Director of Public Health with the HSE South stressed that they suffered 100 per cent from severe dysfunction in such areas as language, memory, and activity level.

Addressing the IMO AGM, Dr. O’Mahony said that FASD had a huge societal impact and many children were misdiagnosed. “Children with FASD fill our foster care places, adults with FAS fill our jails and many people are misdiagnosed.”

The public health specialist called for more support for women and more resources in the form of screening and interventions for alcohol and health promotion campaigns to educate women on the consequences of drinking during pregnancy.

“Most people know that drinking alcohol while pregnant can harm the baby, but lots of women still have questions about drinking during pregnancy. The long-term goal is to prevent foetal alcohol spectrum disorder,” she added.

Retrieved from:  http://www.imt.ie/news/no-alcohol-is-safe-at-any-stage-of-pregnancy-25-04-2017/

Call for campaign to tackle alcohol in pregnancy

PregnantDrinkingGenericPA_large

There is “no safe amount and no safe time” during pregnancy to drink alcohol, given an estimated 600 babies are born here each year with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), a specialist in public health medicine has warned.

Mary T O’Mahony said pre-natal alcohol exposure can cause “irreversible damage” to the developing fetal brain. Despite the potentially dire consequences, there was “unfortunately a large element of denial about the prevalence of FAS”, she said. Previously, Adrienne Foran, a consultant paediatrician at the Rotunda Hospital, told a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children that the issue of FAS was “the elephant in the room”.

Ireland featured among five countries with the highest prevalence rates of FAS in a review published in The Lancet journal in January. Other countries included South Africa, Italy, Croatia, and Belarus. There are an estimated 40,000 people in Ireland living with FAS.

Dr O’Mahony, who was addressing the AGM of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) in Galway, said the study also found that one in 67 women who consume alcohol during pregnancy give birth to a baby with FAS — yet four in five Irish women expecting their first baby take a drink during pregnancy. Babies born with FAS had visible signs of abnormalities and could be recognised at birth, she said.

However, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) were not readily identified and may not be spotted until preschool or school age.

“There are no distinguishing characteristics for FASD,” said Dr O’Mahony. “It is only as children go through the educational system that they become obvious, things like attention deficit, memory deficit, hyperactivity, poor impulse control, poor problem-solving skills, difficulties with abstract concepts such as maths and poor social skills.”

Dr O’Mahony said FASD had “a huge societal impact”.

“Children with FASD fill our foster care places, adults with FAS fill our jails, and many people are misdiagnosed,” she said.

Other countries ran public campaigns warning of drinking during pregnancy and similar action is required here, she said, as well as screening and interventions.

Dr O’Mahony said that the prevention of pre-natal alcohol exposure required a response from both Government and society.

“We need to bring about a change in social norms so that drinking in pregnancy will be as unacceptable as drink-driving,” she said.

A motion calling on the IMO to encourage doctors to educate and empower women to abstain from alcohol throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding to prevent FAS and FASD was passed at the conference.

The conference continues today, with Health Minister Simon Harris due to attend in the afternoon.

Retrieved from:  http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/call-for-campaign-to-tackle-alcohol-in-pregnancy-448454.html

Conversations on alcohol: Women, their partners, and professionals

The Prevention Conversation: A Shared Responsibility Project

coulour_speech_bubbles

3rd in Series: First-ever FASD Prevention Plenary at the 7th International Conference on FASD: PART 2

“International Research on Discussing Alcohol with Women and Their Partners, and Empowering Professionals to Have These Conversations”

Participants:

Tatiana Balachova, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center & Prevent FAS Research Group; Jocelynn Cook, Chief Scientific Officer for The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists; Lisa Schölin, Consultant at WHO Regional Office for Europe – Alcohol, Illicit Drugs and Prison Health; Leana Oliver, CEO of FARR; Cheryl Tan, Health Scientist CDC

Research shows that building awareness and offering brief interventions can help women reduce alcohol-exposed pregnancies. For a variety of reasons, not all providers feel comfortable or confident in giving information or asking about alcohol use, and they may not be sure it makes a difference in preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies. Consequently, researchers from around the world presented their findings at the 7th

View original post 600 more words

‘Adults with foetal alcohol syndrome fill our jails’ – doctor calls for more education on drinking while pregnant

PANews_P-a256a8a2-e4cc-4452-b194-95ac6fb5b297_I1

More education on the dangers of drinking while pregnant is needed a leading doctor has said, as an estimated 600 babies are born with foetal alcohol syndrome in Ireland each year.

Ireland is one of the top five countries where pregnant mums consume alcohol while pregnant.

Data due to be discussed by experts today heard that around 600 babies are born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) each year.

Research will be presented to the Irish Medical Organisation’s (IMO) AGM by Dr. Mary T O’Mahony in Galway today.

According to the data 80pc of Irish mothers reported consuming alcohol during their pregnancy.

“Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a permanent disability called Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The consequences are induced brain damage which is permanent and is associated with physical, mental, educational, social and behavioural difficulties,” Dr. O’Mahony said.

In some cases the symptoms of FAS are immediately recognisable at birth, while in other cases it may not become a concern until pre-school when developmental issues emerge.

Children born with FAS can show sever brain dysfunction, attention problems, lower IQs and dysfunction in areas such as language, memory and activity level.

“Children with FASD fill our foster care places, adults with FAS fill our jails and many people are misdiagnosed”, she said.

The doctor called for more supports to help women abstain from alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“Most people know that drinking alcohol while pregnant can harm the baby, but lots of women still have questions about drinking during pregnancy.  The long-term goal is to prevent Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder”, Dr. O’Mahony said.

Retrieved from:  http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/adults-with-foetal-alcohol-syndrome-fill-our-jails-doctor-calls-for-more-education-on-drinking-while-pregnant-35642031.html

Warning about drinking during pregnancy

Pregalcohol

An estimated 600 babies are born with foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) in Ireland every year, a public health specialist has warned.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), Dr Mary O’Mahony, a specialist in public health medicine at the HSE, pointed out that alcohol use during pregnancy can cause foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

FASD is a term used to describe a range of permanent birth defects caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol, including intellectual difficuties, hyperactivity, memory problems and growth deficiencies. The rarest but most easily recognisiable form is FAS, which refers to children who have been exposed to very high levels of alcohol during pregnancy.

FAS can lead to growth problems, facial defects and lifelong behavioural and learning difficulties.

Dr O’Mahony told the IMO meeting that an estimated 600 babies are born with FAS here every year, and around 40,000 people are living with the condition.

Furthermore, 80% of Irish women pregnant for the first time admit to consuming some alcohol during pregnancy, and Ireland is currently one of the top five countries with the highest prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy.

Dr O’Mahony explained that while children born with FAS may show visible signs of abnormalities that are recognised at birth, FASD may not be recognised until pre-school or school age when difficulties start to manifest.

“The consequences of FASD are induced brain damage, which is permanent and is associated with physical, mental, educational, social and behavioural difficulties. Children with FASD fill our foster care places, while adults with FAS fill our jails,” she commented.

She also pointed out that many people with these conditions are misdiagnosed and she called for better resources for women, such as improved health promotion, screening and intervention.

“We need to support women. Clear, consistent advice is needed to abstain from alcohol throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Most people know that drinking alcohol while pregnant can harm the baby, but lots of women still have questions about drinking during pregnancy. The long-term goal is to prevent FASD,” Dr. O’Mahony added.

She made her comments at the annual general meeting of the IMO in Galway.

Retrieved from:  http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=25779

« Older Entries