What is this research about?
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol and characterised by the presence of a specific pattern of minor facial anomalies, growth deficit, and significant central nervous system dysfunction leading to learning, developmental and behavioural problems. Studies from North America demonstrate a link between impaired cognitive and adaptive skills among individuals living with FAS and adverse life outcomes, including school failure, contact with the criminal justice system, confinement due to mental illness, and drug and alcohol problems. There is growing concern about the impact of FAS on individuals, families and communities in Australia, and the need for services to prevent FASD and improve quality of life among individuals living with the disorder.
This research is funded by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).
Who is conducting this research?
- Winthrop Research Professor Carol Bower: Senior Principal Research Fellow, Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia, The University of Western Australia; Medical Specialist and Head, Western Australian Register of Developmental Anomalies, Women and Newborn Health Service
- Dr Rochelle Watkins: Senior Research Fellow, Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia
For further information please contact Dr Rochelle Watkins
What will we be doing?
We will conduct a retrospective study of WA children diagnosed with FAS and reported to the Western Australian Register of Developmental Anomalies (WARDA) to describe their health and adverse life outcomes, and health service use, including emergency department encounters, hospital admissions, intellectual disability, contact with mental health services, school performance, and interactions with the WA criminal justice system.
The aim of this study will be to:
- evaluate the prevalence of health and adverse life outcomes among a cohort of children diagnosed with FAS in Western Australia using data from the Western Australian Data linkage System (WADLS).
The specific objectives will be to:
- describe all notifications of FAS to WARDA for children born from January 1980
- describe health and adverse life outcomes among notified cases, and estimate the population attributable risk for adverse life outcomes among individuals living with FAS
- identify the use of health care services and evaluate the cost of health care service use among individuals with FAS in Western Australia.
Benefits from this research
This study aims to improve our understanding of the occurrence of adverse life outcomes among individuals with FAS and the risk and protective factors associated with these outcomes is critical for the development of effective and appropriate strategies to improve life outcomes among these individuals.
This study will also improve our understanding of the cost of service delivery, and identify opportunities for changes to policy and practice to improve the management of FAS.
Our findings will have direct implications for policy, and the methods established will provide a basis for long-term follow-up of population level outcomes among individuals diagnosed with FAS, and potentially FASD, in WA.