Taking action on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Hundreds of New Zealand families affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) will benefit from a new Government focus on prevention and treatment, says Health Minister Dr Shane Reti.

“We know FASD is a leading cause of preventable intellectual and neurodevelopmental disability in New Zealand,” Dr Reti says.

“Every day, an estimated five Kiwi kids are born with FASD. It’s a condition which significantly challenges their lifelong learning and development and makes things very difficult for families.

"Today, I’m pleased to be announcing a range of new initiatives to strengthen the health workforce’s ability to assess, diagnose, refer, and support people with FASD and their families.

“We will introduce five new initiatives, including:

  • Publishing new FASD clinical diagnostic guidelines, specifically tailored for New Zealand communities.
  • Offering health professionals from the Child Development Services training to use the new diagnostic guidelines from July. By the end of the year 30 health professionals will be trained as a first step in expanding a workforce that’s better equipped to support people with FASD and their families.
  • Establishing a new, community-led FASD Pilot Programme from May 2024 to provide tailored support to whānau and caregivers at all stages of FASD.
  • From October, promoting a national FASD prevention campaign to raise awareness of the impact of FASD and supporting positive choices to minimise risk.
  • Revitalising the existing FASD Action Plan to ensure a coordinated, system-wide approach.

“We recognise that people with FASD can experience lifelong physical, behavioural, learning, and mental health problems. Those impacts are shared by families, caregivers, and communities. It has significant economic and social costs to the country.

“As a GP, I know that FASD is a condition which has gone under-recognised and under-supported for too long.

“There’s strong evidence that prevention, early detection and intervention are the most effective ways to improve the health and wellbeing for people with FASD.

“This programme of work supports that compelling evidence.

“It also fits with our Government’s priorities to improve public services, like health and education for all New Zealanders, as we also continue the massive work of rebuilding our economy,” Dr Reti says.

Today’s announcements will be funded through a range of sources, including baseline funding, the alcohol levy and the Proceeds of Crime funding. Over $2 million is currently dedicated to the delivery of these initiatives.

Media contact:  Gabrielle Henderson - +64 21 879 535