Fetal alcohol syndrome misunderstood and under-diagnosed, says expert

Source: 1News

"Millions and millions of people around the world" live with fetal alcohol syndrome, and an international expert says the disorder is often misunderstood. 

Speaking on TVNZ's Breakfast this morning, CEO of FASD Forever Jeff Noble, an organisation that helps people caring for sufferers, described fetal alcohol syndrome as a "brain-based disability".

"It is a life long disability and it occurs when a mum consumes alcohol while the baby is being developed in the womb," Mr Noble said.

He said there are huge misconceptions around fetal alcohol syndrome. 

"Here's what we know, there is no known safe amount. There are a lot of different factors. It depends on mums weight, nutrition, is she having a stressful pregnancy?"

"There are so many different factors so what we know is don't take the risk, don't drink if you are planning on becoming pregnant or are expecting."

People who live with fetal alcohol syndrome may experience low birth weight, heart defects, behavioral problems and intellectual disability according to the Ministry of Health. 

Mr Noble said the disorder is commonly undiagnosed and society has to start recognising it as a "brain based disability" for people to help those who are living with the disorder. 

"It comes by understanding where their defects are but also understanding where their strengths are because they have huge strengths," Mr Noble said.