Prevalence Study of Youth with FASD in Justice Settings

Funding for a prevalence study on FASD youth in NZ justice settings has been green-lit, along with initial consultation into a national FASD register.

The National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) at the University of Auckland have received funding from the Health Research Council (HRC) for a three-year study on the prevalence of rangatahi with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the justice system.

We know from international studies that those with FASD are likely to be over-represented but under-detected in justice settings. One to three babies in every 100 are affected by prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE); in incarcerated populations (including adult and youth justice) these estimates are between 10 and 36 per 100 people.

In Aotearoa we offer no specialised health services for the unique needs of individuals with FASD, despite the impact of this on their health outcomes. Without appropriate interventions, individuals with FASD face significant extra challenges for themselves and their whānau – and there are also implications for society as a whole.

Over the three-year project, Joanna Chu and her team at NIHI propose to:

1) determine the prevalence of FASD among NZ Youth Justice population;

2) identify the unique needs of children living with FASD in Oranga Tamariki (OT) care, and

3) design appropriate services and clinical practice guidelines to address unmet needs in collaboration with youth justice staff, kaitiaki (Māori Governance Group), FASD experts, and the carers and whānau of young people with FASD.

FASD-CAN will keep you informed of outcomes for this important research as it comes to hand.

National FASD registry

NIHI has also received a smaller grant from HRC to begin consulting around how to develop a national FASD registry. Currently, there is no comprehensive NZ registry capturing FASD data; in its absence, it’s difficult to monitor the trends and outcomes that are needed for a national policy to improve care for those with FASD.

A national FASD registry will provide a platform for individuals and families, clinicians, researchers, government and industry to collaborate and advance knowledge and practice for those impacted by the disorder. The team will consult with key stakeholders on how to develop a scalable and sustainable national FASD registry within Aotearoa.