FASD Hub Scotland is a new service which has been launched today (18 June) by Adoption UK Scotland for parents and carers of children and young people who were - or are suspected of having been - exposed to alcohol during pregnancy, a condition known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).   

The service extends to offer information, support and training to relevant professionals who support these families.  

FASD is an umbrella term that describes a range of irreversible and lifelong physical, emotional and developmental delays that may affect a person as a result of being exposed to alcohol during pregnancy.   

The UK has the fourth highest level of prenatal alcohol use in the world, and around three quarters of looked-after children are deemed at risk (McQuire, Mukerjee et al 2018). 

FASD is a disability which often remains hidden or misunderstood by the wider population.  This condition is the most common cause of neurodisability in the Western world and presents around 3-6 times the rate of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the UK (McGruer 2018).    

A recent UK based study showed up to 17% of children screened had symptoms consistent with FASD (McQuire, Mukherjee et al 2018). Within Scotland FASD may affect up to 6% of children and young people (McGruer 2018).  Despite this, people with FASD are also often misdiagnosed with similar or co-morbid conditions, or not diagnosed at all. 

FASD Hub Scotland will provide direct support services for people affected by, or living with, FASD.   The service includes an information helpline, advocacy support, an online peer support community, workshops and training programmes. 

FASD Hub Scotland has three dedicated staff.  Project Lead Aliy Brown said: “We’re delighted that Adoption UK Scotland is further developing our support services in Scotland with the establishment of FASD Hub Scotland. We cannot cure FASD, but many people can live very successfully with it, if provided with the right support at the right time.” 

Adoptive parent Judith reflects, “Six years ago when my son was diagnosed with FASD I was given no information about the condition or where I could go for help and advice.  At that time, I knew of no other parent or carer in the same position and I felt very alone and isolated. It’s great to see the establishment of FASD Hub Scotland which will serve as a central point for parents/carers looking for information, support and a network of other parents and carers who ‘get it’.” 

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “A diagnosis of FASD is difficult for families and we can’t underestimate the challenges each diagnosis brings.   

 “We know that there is a high incidence of care experienced and adopted children living with this condition but more importantly we also know that with the right care and support, children can go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives.   

“That is why I am delighted that by working in partnership with Adoption UK Scotland to create the FASD Hub Scotland, tailored support for children and families is now available.   

“We are also supporting training this week for a range of health professionals to gain better consistency for diagnosis, led by an internationally renowned expert team from Manitoba.  It is vital that we recognise the needs of this group of children and young people and ensure that the right support is available to them and their families when they most need it.” 

The project has received funding of £140,000 from the Scottish Government, for an initial three-year period.