Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 16 November 2023.

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Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve diagnostic processes for foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to improve awareness of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Department asked the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to produce a Quality Standard in England (QS204) for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) to help the health and care system improve both diagnosis and care of those affected. As well as covering the assessment and diagnosis of FASD, the Quality Standard covers support during pregnancy to improve awareness and prevent the disorder. It was published in March 2022, and is available at the following link:

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs204

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines published in 2016 provide clear advice to women not to drink alcohol if they are planning for a pregnancy or are pregnant, and these are available at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5a80b7ed40f0b623026951db/UK_CMOs__report.pdf

This message is also included in the patient information leaflet recommended for use when giving brief advice to any adult identified as drinking above low risk levels, and in the National Health Service public-facing health information pages. These are available at the following links:

https://khub.net/web/phe-national/public-library/-/document_library/v2WsRK3ZlEig/view_file/377334553 https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/drinking-alcohol-while-pregnant/

The Department is currently consulting on the first ever UK clinical guidelines for alcohol treatment. The guidelines set out how maternity, alcohol treatment and other healthcare professionals should support women to reduce or stop their alcohol use as quickly and safely as possible, to reduce the ongoing exposure of the foetus to alcohol and the risk and severity of future disability. More information is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/uk-clinical-guidelines-for-alcohol-treatment

Additionally, the Maternity Disparities Taskforce is currently producing a resource for pre-conception care for women from minority ethnic communities and those living in the most deprived areas. This guidance will include information on drinking in pregnancy.

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