Please note: this is a work in progress and will be updated periodically. We are preparing a report summarising these and earlier statements. The goal is to achieve long-overdue comprehensive action by Government and other related entities.
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Links contained in the above written answer:
- Eurocat Prevalence tables by region: http://www.eurocat-network.eu/prevdata/resultsPdf.aspx?title=A5&allanom=false&allregf=true&allrega=true&anomalies=83&winx=1256&winy=677
- Prevalence Data Provided by Parliamentary UnderSecretary Brine
Link provided in above Written Answer:
Eurocat data: http://www.eurocat-network.eu/prevdata/resultsPdf.aspx?title=A5&allanom=false&allregf=true&allrega=true&anomalies=83&winx=1256&winy=677
Link provided in above Written Answer:
Business of the House (24 May 2018):
Easter Adjournment (29 Mar 2018):
I beg to move,
That this House
has considered matters to be raised before the forthcoming adjournment.
Autism (29 Mar 2018):
I have to say that I have a specific interest in the influence of alcohol consumed in pregnancy, and I have long been an active member of the all-party group on foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Most significantly, questions have been asked about the possibility that alcohol is a factor in some cases of autism. In preparing for this debate, I looked online at what research had been undertaken in order to discover whether there was a causal link between alcohol consumed in pregnancy and some—I emphasise, some—cases of autism. I found abstracts of six research reports dating from 2005 to 2012, in which the researchers have concluded that FASD and autism do exhibit similarities, although it is difficult to show that they are exactly the same. It is of course important to distinguish correlations and observed similarities from causal relationships.
The finding of one piece of research is that FASD and autism share similarities in social and communicative functioning. A more detailed report has illustrated a strong overlap between behavioural characteristics in FASD and in autism. That piece of research compared behaviours for 10 different conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder and depression, as well as autism and FASD. Some 39 characteristic behaviours for FASD were compared with the other conditions, and of them, 20 were also typical of autism, 24 of bipolar disorder, 17 of depression and 12 of ADHD. There were also differences between FASD and autism disorders, but it remains a possibility that there is a link between the two. Indeed, some individuals have in the past been diagnosed as autistic when they had actually been affected by alcohol and had FASD.
It is known that people with extreme cases of FASD exhibit facial dysmorphology, but researchers have found that FASD children are equally sensitive intellectually, regardless of whether or not they have facial dysmorphology. Such factors can make it more difficult to distinguish FASD from autism, and there are of course cases of individuals having both autism and FASD.
More research clearly needs to be carried out, and I have probably only scratched the surface of the research already done. However, if alcohol is a factor in some cases of autism, this would be very significant, and it would surely make the case for abstaining from alcohol in pregnancy overwhelming. Indeed, any substance, especially a medication, that is known to cause foetal damage should be avoided around the time of conception and during pregnancy. We all know that, but not enough is done to publicise it.
Even if it is eventually found that FASD and autism are entirely separate conditions, reducing the incidence of FASD—a terrible affliction in itself—is surely a vital and urgent matter that must be more seriously addressed by the Government. A number of Governments in Canada, Denmark and elsewhere are far ahead of Britain in taking steps to reduce the incidence of FASD, and we must follow their good practice. Many thousands of people will in future benefit in life-enhancing ways if those of us in politics do much more to reduce levels of the distressing forms of autism and of FASD. If we do this, we shall certainly have achieved something of immense significance, and indeed, I believe that we shall have added to the sum total of human happiness.
Comments in the Scottish Parliament, 14 March 2018
The Scottish Government funds NHS Scotland to provide a range of services to promote and protect the health of children. Hospital, general practice and nursing services provide on-going healthcare to children diagnosed with long-term medical conditions such as foetal alcohol syndrome. In July
2017, we launched the foetal alcohol spectrum disorder care pathway, which is an e-learning resource for health professionals that aims to help with the diagnosis of the condition and to support the families and carers of affected children.
In Scotland, we have benefited from the support needs system, which allows the recording of children with diverse types of health needs, including those resulting from foetal alcohol syndrome. That system is currently being reviewed. Does the minister agree that it is important to have an interconnected system throughout Scotland? Will the review consider our having a single data recording system instead of one that is fragmented into health board areas?
Rona Mackay is absolutely right to point to the fact that we need consistency in how we diagnose and record the incidence of foetal alcohol syndrome. The health boards record diagnoses of conditions on their local information systems, and the FASD care pathway, which we launched last July, provides all health professionals with the necessary information to help with the diagnostic and support process. There is also a multidisciplinary professional Scottish intercollegiate guidelines network group looking specifically at the assessment and diagnosis of foetal alcohol syndrome. That group is due to report by the end of this year, and we will certainly ensure that the points and issues raised by Rona Mackay on the consistency of diagnosis are part of that work.
The prevalence of foetal alcohol syndrome is complex and there is no single treatment for foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which varies in its presentation and severity although it is recognised as a lifelong condition.
There is evidence that early intervention support to enhance learning and manage self-regulation and behaviour can be beneficial. That involves early enrolment with relevant educational resources and other agencies such as social and psychological services. Enhanced awareness and recognition of FASD and adopting the getting it right for every child approach to support families can optimise the long-term management of FASD. If the member would like to write to me about the specifics of his constituent, I would be happy to take the matter further.
I beg to move,
That this House
has considered child-to-parent violence.