By Hannah Rodger

A SUPPORT service for adopted children with prenatal alcohol-related problems has been extended after overwhelming need in its first three months.

The foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) Hub, launched by Adoption UK Scotland in June, is aimed at supporting people whose children exhibit signs of FASD, which are more commonly seen in children from a care-experienced background.

Initially staff were supporting families with adopted or foster children, or who were kinship carers to children with FASD.

However, in just three months, the service has taken almost four times the number of calls its Adoption UK helpline would have taken about the disorders, many of which were from biological families.

After spotting the need for more support for biological parents, bosses put their suggestions for extension to the Scottish Government, which agreed to the plans.

Aliy Brown, FASD Hub Scotland project lead, explained: “Research has shown that there would be a prevalence of at least exposure to alcohol and substance misuses in around 75% of care-experienced children and young people.

“Not everyone with exposure to alcohol will end up with FASD, but a large proportion of that population would.

“It is more common in the care-experienced community, and it made sense for us to provide a service for parents of these children.

“We were always really conscious of biological families and the fact that you might not know you were pregnant until six-eight weeks, or longer. You might be drinking alcohol without knowing. Its not the case that everyone who has a child with FASD is an alcoholic – there is no safe limit so that could be any of us.

“Since the Hub has gone live, we have been contacted by several biological parents who we have supported. People are happy to come to us, we realised, and it’s something we wanted to do.”

Guidelines published earlier this year on diagnosing children with FASD revealed details of a Glasgow study on the prevalence of babies’ exposure to alcohol in the womb.

The report studied the meconium of newborn babies in Glasgow, and identified that 42% had some level of alcohol exposure from their mothers during pregnancy, and around 15% of the pregnancies had been exposed to very high levels of alcohol.

Brown, who has one child with a diagnosis and another in the process of being diagnosed, explained FASD can manifest “very differently” in each case, although ADHD-like symptoms can be a common characteristic in up to 65% of children with FASD.