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        What does Foetal Alcohol Syndrome mean?

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        Lucy Stevens - 9th March 2022

        Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), also known as Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, can have a long term impact on a child from the womb through to adulthood. It’s important our foster carers know about the condition, which impacts around one per cent of all babies born, as it can have a significant impact on a child’s emotional and physical development and growth. Children with FAS may encounter difficulties other children will not face.

        Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is a condition that results from consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the largest causes of disability and birth defects in children. As with any spectrum condition, children with FAS may have a range of symptoms, varying in significance, in relation to their physical, emotional and educational development. Carers looking after children with FAS need to be mindful of the symptoms of the condition so that they can effectively care and advocate for them.

        What are the symptoms of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome?

        It’s important that, as a foster parent, you are aware of the signs of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome which may not be obvious straight away. Some of the key symptoms to look out for include:

        Facial features: One of the most common defining features of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome are the facial features that are often found. They are defined by small, wide-set eyes, thin lips and a smooth ridge between the upper lip and the nose.

        Poor coordination: It is common for children with FAS to have poor hand-eye co-ordination. However this can also be seen in children who suffer from developmental delay due to trauma or neglect. It is important not to take these symptoms in isolation but to see the child as a whole person and care for them holistically.

        Slower growth than the average child: Physical growth may be affected by Foetal Alcohol Sydrome. Once again, it is important to note that there are many factors that can contribute to slow growth.

        Hyperactivity: What could be mistaken as ADHD may be part of a wider issue. Look out for things like a lack of ability to focus, general hyperactivity that goes beyond the normal amount for an active child and a struggle to focus on tasks. Keeping good records when it comes to fostering really helps other professionals to understand and respond to the needs of the child.

        Poor sight and/or hearing issues: Because the consumption of alcohol at any stage of pregnancy can interrupt the development of the baby, there are many areas that can be affected. Hearing, sight, brain development or indeed the development of any part of the body. This has the potential to make FAS a very broad spectrum.

        How does Foetal Alcohol Syndrome present itself in children?

        The consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can damage a child’s nervous system. As a result, the impact can be far reaching and includes:

        • Liver and kidney problems
        • Learning disabilities
        • A lowered immune system
        • Epilepsy
        • Heart problems
        • Balance issues
        • Height and weight issues

        Not all children with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome will present with all symptoms.

        What other terms are used to describe Foetal Alcohol Syndrome?

        You may hear people, including many health practitioners, refer to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome in different ways. Some of the terms used in connection with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome include, but are not limited to:

        • Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
        • Foetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)
        • Partial Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (PFAS)
        • Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD)
        • Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopment Disorder (ARND)

        Help and support available

        It is fair to say that children with FAS are over-represented in the population within foster care. Eastern Fostering Services has a wealth of experience in supporting carers to care for children affected by FAS. All foster carers are offered regular supervision with their Supervising Social Worker and this is a safe space to explore challenges, strategies and what may be needed to better advocate for the child.

        Eastern Fostering Services also offer excellent training on the condition and this is always a popular subject for carers as the science behind it continues to shed light on the condition and how best to support children affected by it.

        We are always available to carers, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can find out a bit more about the support Eastern Fostering Services offers on our website.

        .

        If you’d like to find out more about fostering, please do get in touch with us online, by phone on 01206 299775 or via Facebook.

        Apply to foster
        Transfer to us
        Contact us

          Register your interest

          If you would like to register your interest in fostering, please complete the form below. We will get back to you shortly to discuss next steps.

          Have you applied to foster before?

          YesNo

          Do you have a spare room?

          YesNo

          We will contact you, using your preferred contact details, as soon as possible.

          Make a report to one of CEOP's Child Protection Advisors. If you are worried about online abuse or the way someone has been communicating online, let CEOP know

            Transfer to EFS

            Existing foster carers sometimes approach us because they want to transfer from their existing fostering provider. If you are not happy with the service you are currently receiving and would like to know more about transferring fostering provider, complete the form below and we will get back to you.

            Do you have a child in placement?

            YesNo

            We will contact you, using your preferred contact details, as soon as possible.

            Make a report to one of CEOP's Child Protection Advisors. If you are worried about online abuse or the way someone has been communicating online, let CEOP know

              Contact us

              If you have questions about fostering, please complete the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

              We will contact you, using your preferred contact details, as soon as possible.

              Make a report to one of CEOP's Child Protection Advisors. If you are worried about online abuse or the way someone has been communicating online, let CEOP know
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