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Our researchers work with families, communities and stakeholders across Western Australia and have developed collaborations with researchers nationally and internationally to share and learn to help prevent FASD and to benefit people with FASD and their families.

  • We are working with communities in the Kimberley and Pilbara (WA), and in Alice Springs (NT) and Newcastle (NSW) to develop prevention strategies
  • As part of broader community strategies, our work has helped reduce rates of drinking alcohol during pregnancy in the Fitzroy Valley from 70% to 20%
  • We have developed guidelines to assist health professionals diagnose FASD and improve clinical practice
  • We are also working with health professionals to increase their knowledge of guidelines in relation to alcohol consumption during pregnancy and while breastfeeding
  • We have assessed young people in Banksia juvenile detention centre and found that 36% of them have FASD and 89% have at least one severe neurodevelopment impairment. We are working with staff to look at how behaviour management practices can be revised to consider the needs of these young people. Training resources are being developed and will trialled, evaluated and implemented in Western Australia in 2018 with the goal of having them available for staff working with young people in the justice system across Australia.
  • We are also partnering with other organisations to change policies and practices relating to alcohol guidelines, advertising, labelling and licensing
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Sharyn's story

“Our kids are not the same each day, even in the same situation. There is no pattern. It is a new day every day! Take everything you thought you knew about parenting and throw it out the window. It’s hour by hour, day by day parenting.”

This is the story of Sharyn and her family and their efforts to help her with the significant impairments she is living with.

Professor Carol Bower: Director, FASD Research Australia

Professor Carol BowerI have always had an interest and passion for investigating causes and effects of birth defects and then using research findings to influence and evaluate public health policy and practice to help alleviate or prevent these defects.

My early research contributed to our understanding of the role of the vitamin folate in preventing spina bifida and other neural tube defects.  This led to promotion of periconceptional (before conception to early pregnancy) folic acid supplement use and mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid and then evaluation of the effectiveness of these measures in reducing the occurrence of neural tube defects. 

I was jolted into thinking about FASD, another potentially preventable birth defect, when the mother of a child with FASD contacted me in the late 1990s.

She had deep concerns about the limited knowledge of health professionals and the lack of attention on FASD generally in Australia. She was right and she has continued to guide (and goad!) me as we embarked on our FASD research and research translation, with investigation of the prevalence, diagnosis, management and prevention of FASD. It is exciting (and very gratifying) to see that there are now many researchers and health and other professionals working to reduce the number of women drinking alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding, to improve clinical practice and diagnosis, and to recognise the impact of FASD on the child and their family and how we can work together to improve lives and long term outcomes. 

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