Surveillance of fetal alcohol syndrome started

The study aims to determine the incidence of FAS in the UK and Ireland, investigate which services are accessed by babies and children affected by the condition and raise awareness about FAS among clinical practitioners.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (sometimes known as FAS) is a rare condition which occurs when the developing baby is exposed to alcohol in the womb. Alcohol can cross the placenta into an unborn baby's blood stream.

The exposure of an unborn baby to alcohol can then affect the development of the brain, leading to challenges in learning and development. Alcohol can also affect the development of other parts of the unborn baby’s body, particularly the face. The exact amount of alcohol that cause FAS is unknown but FAS can be completely prevented by avoiding the use of alcohol in pregnancy.

This study is not investigating the wider condition of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

This study is run through the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit, which asks medical doctors to report cases of FAS for any child or baby under 16 years. Doctors complete a questionnaire about any cases. The study team in Leeds will look at the findings, and the results will be presented in medical journals and scientific conferences.

By collecting this information, the investigators hope to increase our understanding about FAS among children and babies. This may help us improve our understanding of the current problems associated with this condition, and shape future approaches to preventing and managing it.

More about this study