NICE publishes quality standard to improve diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published its latest standards report, which sets out how health and care services can improve the diagnosis, assessment, and prevention of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). 

Entitled ‘Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Quality Standard,’ the document outlines the advice, support and guidance mothers should receive during pregnancy from healthcare professionals in order to prevent FASD from occurring.  

The quality standards report highlights five key areas of improvement for local health and care service providers, which include: 

  • Pregnant women are given advice throughout their pregnancy not to drink alcohol. 
  • Pregnant women are asked about their alcohol consumption throughout their pregnancy and this is recorded.  
  • Children and young people with probable prenatal alcohol exposure and significant developmental, physical, or behavioural difficulties are referred to the relevant healthcare professionals.  
  • Children and young people with confirmed prenatal alcohol exposure, or all 3 facial features associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, are to receive a neurodevelopmental assessment if there any concerns. 
  • Children and young people diagnosed with FASD have a management plan to address their needs.  

Dr Paul Chrisp, director of NICE’s centre for guidelines, commented on the document: “We know children and young people with FASD often have a poorer quality of life and must overcome some incredibly difficult challenges in their daily lives. This quality standard aims to improve the diagnosis and care offered to children and young people with FASD as well as ensuring that women are given consistent advice about their alcohol consumption during pregnancy. 

“FASD is a series of preventable mental and physical birth defects associated with alcohol use during pregnancy. Helping women to drink less or no alcohol during their pregnancy will reduce the number of children and young people affected by FASD. 

“Data on the number of children and young people in the UK with FASD are limited, with no single reliable source. It is important that we have clearly defined areas for improvement in place to reflect national priorities, promote best practice and help all those involved in delivering services to provide the very highest levels of care.” 

To read the quality standards in full, please click here.