Staff from the Heathy Start Program at the Healthy Communities Foundation Australia were in Condobolin with our partners NOFASD to talk to the community about the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy.
The initiative is part of a NHMRC funded research project, led by the University of Sydney and delivered by the Healthy Communities Foundation, to establish and evaluate approaches to increasing the screening rate for children born with FASD, and improving health literacy in rural and remote towns.
According to NOFASD, Australia's leading FASD research, information and education organisation:
"Alcohol can cause damage to the unborn child at any time during pregnancy, even before a pregnancy has been confirmed. The level of harm is dependent on a wide range of factors, making it impossible to predict the outcome of alcohol exposure to any individual pregnancy. Factors include the amount and frequency of alcohol use, parent age and health of the mother (nutrition, tobacco use, mental health) and environmental factors such as stress.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a condition that is an outcome of parents either not being aware of the dangers of alcohol use when pregnant or planning a pregnancy, or not being supported to stay healthy and strong during pregnancy".
Improving access to education and awareness in rural and remote communities is a key step in preventing an increase in children born with FASD in Australia.
According to NOFASD: "The majority of children and adults who have FASD live with significant cognitive, behavioural, health and learning difficulties, including problems with memory, attention, cause and effect reasoning, impulsivity, receptive language and adaptive functioning difficulties".
The program is another example of how empowering rural and remote communities to lead the design and delivery of health prevention and early intervention strategies is yielding significant improvements in health literacy and outcomes in rural and remote towns.