The Trust is funding National FASD to develop both strategy and delivery of a programme for the prevention of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), with a target audience of 15-25 year olds.
National FASD (previously NOFAS) is a relatively small charity but one which has a national profile as one of the very few organisations with expertise on FASD. It has untill now concentrated on support for those affected by FASD, including campaigning for recognition of this much underreported acquired brain injury.
The development of more preventative work is very significant for National FASD and for England and Wales and is being rolled out in the context of the forthcoming announcement of the first NICE guidelines on FASD and its prevention.
The work has already seen:
- The launch of a dedicated Prevent FASD website
- Two national polls conducted with young people on their knowledge of the effects of drinking during pregnancy, and their understanding and attitudes to alcohol and sex.
- #WhyRiskit competition which has produced 20 winners who have generated posters/ videos and other materials and provided a new base of young ‘preventers’.
- Teaching materials for the PHSE curriculum
- Investment in and growth of social media platforms with new content produced and coordinated digital outreach
- Major news and media coverage including in the Daily Mail, The Sun, The Metro, The Mirror, The Daily Star, Yahoo and others
Why is the Trust funding this work?
The UK has the fourth highest rate in the world for drinking alcohol in pregnancy, with more than 41% of women reporting alcohol use in one study. In November 2018, the first-ever UK-based screening prevalence study showed that as many as 6-17% of people might be affected by Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. FASD is lifelong, permanent organic brain damage, a ‘hidden’ neurodevelopmental disability that a study in North America showed affects more people than autism. Funding work to raise awareness of this and prevent babies being born with a brain injury acquired by alcohol consumption during pregnancy, clearly fits our aims to use the Trust’s resources for the most disadvantaged 0-3 year olds.
All young people and particularly young women need more knowledge about the risks of alcohol in pregnancy. Yet national polls in April 2019 showed that 33% of the 18-24 age group and 35% of the 25-34 age group could not identify the current Chief Medical Officers’ guidance on alcohol and pregnancy that the “safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all”. By helping young people better understand the risks of drinking alcohol in pregnancy these statistics can be reduced in the future, promoting healthier pregnancies and better life long outcomes for future families.
National FASD and the Trust believe that this is a pivotal moment for increasing awareness of FASD and its prevention. Building on work done in Scotland, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will be releasing the first ever Quality Standard on FASD. This means that moving forward, all English NHS Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups will have to ‘have regard’ for how to improve FASD prevention, diagnosis and support. This is a seismic change as up to now FASD has not been officially recognized by NICE and should start to change the national picture.