The new quality standard highlights areas for improvement on the diagnosis, assessment, and prevention of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Pregnant woman leaning against wall

NICE has published Quality Standard (QS) 204 on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

NICE quality standards describe high-priority areas for quality improvement in a defined care or service area. Each standard consists of a prioritised set of specific, concise, and measurable statements.

Quality standards are intended to drive up the quality of care. Desired levels of achievement should be defined locally, while taking account of safety, shared decision-making, choice, and professional judgement.

There are five key areas in QS204 are designed to help local service providers identify areas for improvement:

  • pregnant women are given advice throughout pregnancy not to drink alcohol
  • pregnant women are asked about their alcohol use throughout their pregnancy, and this is recorded
  • children and young people with probable prenatal alcohol exposure and significant physical, developmental, or behavioural difficulties are referred for assessment
  • children and young people with confirmed prenatal alcohol exposure, or all three facial features associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, have a neurodevelopmental assessment if there are clinical concerns
  • children and young people with a diagnosis of FASD have a management plan to address their needs.

Dr Paul Chrisp, director of NICE’s centre for guidelines, said: ‘We know children and young people with FASD often have a poorer quality of life, and must overcome some incredibly difficult challenges in their daily lives.

‘This quality standard aims to improve the diagnosis and care offered to children and young people with FASD, as well as ensuring that women are given consistent advice about their alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

‘FASD is a series of preventable mental and physical birth defects associated with alcohol use during pregnancy. Helping women to drink less or no alcohol during their pregnancy will reduce the number of children and young people affected by FASD.’

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