Better training is needed on fetal alcohol disorders, says BMA

Mayor, S. BMJ 2016;352:i735

Pregnancy Stock

Image source: Anthony Devlin/PA

Training programmes on the prevention, diagnosis, and management of fetal alcohol syndromes should be implemented for UK healthcare professionals and included in undergraduate curriculums to resolve a “scandalous lack of support” for the children affected, a report by the BMA has said.1

Developed by the BMA’s Board of Science, the report set out recommendations for the government, policy makers, and professionals to help prevent prenatal alcohol exposure and improve the lives of children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

The board’s chair, Sheila Hollins, said, “It has long been known that maternal alcohol consumption can have damaging effects on the fetus. Yet the stark reality is that a large number of children are born every year in the UK with lifelong physical, behavioural, and cognitive disabilities caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

“Worse still, there is a scandalous lack of support for these children, who live and grow up with the impact of their impairments without the educational, emotional, and social support they require to fulfil their potential.”

The report, which updated previous recommendations from 2007, warned about a current lack of information on the incidence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in the UK. It recommended routinely collecting data on fetal alcohol syndrome throughout the country, as well as implementing uniform diagnostic criteria and improving data collection on the full range of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Awareness of these disorders among health professionals was currently low, the report said, so it recommended training programmes on preventing, diagnosing, and managing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Training should also be integrated into undergraduate and postgraduate medical curriculums and continuing professional development, it said.

Read the full article here

Read the full BMA report on alcohol and pregnancy here

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