Salford researchers to produce 'best data in UK' for foetal disorders

Categories: School of Health and Society

A University of Salford research fellow is helping to produce what could be the ‘best data’ on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) prevalence in the UK.

FASD is the range of conditions and birth defects caused by alcohol exposure in pregnancy. It is characterised by a range of cognitive and behavioural difficulties, especially with planning, attention, impulsivity, social communication, emotions and memory. There can also be physical features including delayed growth, small head circumference, hearing problems, and distinctive facial features.

Dr Alan Price, who has recently completed his PhD at the University, is involved in a study aiming to find out how common FASD is. Penny Cook, Professor of Public Health at the University, is the lead investigator of the study.

In order to estimate the prevalence of FASD researchers must go out and actively look for cases, typically in primary schools.

Alan said that due to the lack of infrastructure in the UK, ‘rates of FASD diagnosis are very low.’

“Where these studies have been conducted elsewhere in Europe and North America, they tend to produce prevalence estimates of about 3-4%, meaning FASD is very common, more so than autism for example, which is around 1-2% population prevalence.”

The study has also received funding from Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.

Alan and Penny will be sharing research from the study at the University of Salford Conference on FASD, on Thursday 12 December 2019.

Held in MediaCityUK, the conference will see an MP, professors, psychiatrists, and doctors from around the UK share their insights into FASD. Travelling all the way from America, Dr Larry Burd, Director of the North Dakota Fetal Alcohol Centre, will also be giving a talk.

Penny said: “Awareness of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is surprisingly low given how common it is; this conference is the ideal opportunity to learn about the topic from an array of leading experts in the field. We are also delighted to be welcoming families and individuals affected by FASD.”

Alan added: “We’re all keen to help spread the word and improve understanding, especially among healthcare workers, teachers and social workers, who may be able to make a difference to people with FASD but are often not adequately trained to do so.”

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