According to the federal government’s drug commissioner, mechthild dyckmans (FDP), foster and adoptive parents in particular, but also doctors, have so far often been able to interpret the disabilities only with difficulty and at a late stage. A guideline now aims to make it easier for doctors to diagnose fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) more quickly. It is considered the most common cause of congenital disability.
Dyckmans said on monday at the presentation in berlin that the guideline would make life easier for the families affected. The chairwoman of the patient representation FASD germany, gisela michalowski, described it as a "rough milestone". It will now allow for a comprehensive diagnosis.
FAS criteria include conspicuous growth and facial features. The babies are often too small and too light, said munich physician, psychologist and co-author of the guideline, mirjam landgraf. Other signs include the absence of a groove between the nose and upper lip and a narrow upper lip. More serious are disturbances in the central nervous system, which can lead to reduced intelligence, problems with language or learning and memory skills.
A quick diagnosis allowed parents to adjust to the disabilities from the beginning and organize help, said dyckmans. It was also easier to assess the demand for kindergarten and schools, and the youth welfare offices were better able to approve the exact need for services. "Since FAS is not curable and does not grow out of it, people with FAS are dependent on support for the rest of their lives," michalowski said. She hopes that disability will now be more socially recognized. FAS children often labeled as lazy, unwilling to learn and criminal.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy causes a wide range of disorders besides FAS that appear to be milder, explained guideline co-author prof. Florian heinen. But even these disruptions are serious for later development, such as professional skills. The number of people affected is 10 to 20 times higher than the number of FAS sufferers. "We are not talking here about a very minimal interest group," he stressed. It is not possible to say exactly when alcohol starts to harm unborn children. The best thing is to do without it altogether. "It’s really the one handicap that we can prevent 100 percent," heinen emphasized, referring to FAS.