The international charter on prevention of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Date: 15th February 2014
Category: Disability, Basic Health and Welfare

A paper has been published in The Lancet which shares the charter on the prevention of fetal alcohol harm, which was agreed by 700 delegates from 35 nations at the first international conference on the prevention side of this life-altering condition.

The international charter is presented to all concerned in the international community as a call for urgent action to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a serious health and social problem, as well as an educational and legal issue, which affects individuals, families, and societies worldwide. The disorder is caused by alcohol use during pregnancy - no known amount of alcohol is safe for a growing embryo and fetus, which can develop extensive brain damage and physical abnormalities from exposure to alcohol.

Although early intervention and supportive care can improve outcomes for individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, the associated cognitive, behavioural, and physical impairments can have devastating implications for the individual, family, and other caregivers. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a lifelong disorder.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is preventable. However, one major obstacle to prevention is lack of awareness of the disorder's existence and of risks associated with women drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

The Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee has recently consulted on health inequalities and the early years.