2 May 2018

Take 5: Diagnosing adults with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Alcohol Clinical

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is a possible diagnosis for adults with mental health or behavioural issues.

“The important thing for GP is to have a high index of suspicion,” says Dr Doug Shelton, a paediatrician at Gold Coast University Hospital.

“So if you have someone in your case load as, say, an adult that has ongoing mental health problems, that seems to lead a complicated life, punctuated by a series of suboptimal decisions, maybe they’ve been involved with the law, then we should always consider FASD as a possibility for any mental health behavioural presentation.”

However, diagnosis is often made in childhood. “The age of diagnosis is around seven years for most children because diagnosis relies predominantly on complex neuropsychological testing and those tests are only valid and reliable at about the age of seven,” says Dr Shelton.