Fetal Alcohol Advisory and Support Team (FAAST)
FAAST is a team of experts with a national remit to provide and facilitate training, consultation and research in order to enhance the capacity, knowledge and confidence of Scotland's health and social care workforce in their work with those affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
FASD is a significant public health issue for Scotland, with an estimated 1 in 7 babies born at risk of FASD and an estimated prevalence 3-4 times greater than autism. FASD is a lifelong condition, and without early diagnosis and appropriate support starting in childhood, is associated with secondary disabilities including reduced educational attainment and outcomes, mental health and addiction problems, involvement with the criminal justice system, and premature death from violence, accidents and suicide. Figures and facts on the scale and scope of FASD in Scotland, along with guidance on the identification and management of people exposed prenatally to alcohol has been published by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) in CG 156 (SIGN, 2019).
Funded by Scottish Government, FAAST is the centre of expertise on FASD in Scotland. FAAST originated in 2015 as a pilot service within NHS Ayrshire & Arran led by Consultant Paediatrician Dr Sarah Brown and Principal Clinical Psychologist Dr Jennifer Shields. Drs Brown and Shields played a substantial role in the development of the SIGN 156 guidance. In 2020 the Team formally bridged to the School of Health in Social Science and welcomed new team members from the Department of Clinical Psychology, including Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Forensic, Clinical and Neuropsychology Dr Suzanne O’Rourke, to expand its capacity to develop and deliver training resources for health and social care practitioners, and in order to commence a strategic research programme which will form the foundation for a national evidence base on FASD in Scotland.
FAAST activities align to three primary workstreams including:
(1) The provision of training and professional education to aid prevention efforts and diagnostic and support services for individuals with FASD
(2) The provision of expert advice and consultation to practitioners, services and organisations
(3) Undertaking research and evaluation related to prenatal alcohol exposure and FASD in Scotland.
The Team works in partnership with the FASD Hub Scotland, a national tiered support service for all parents and carers of children and young people who have, or may have, been affected, by prenatal alcohol exposure. FASD Hub Scotland provides information, advice, peer support, signposting and training for caregivers and professionals in education, social work and the charity/third sector.
For further information, resources and opportunities to be involved in FAAST’s work, please contact the Team by email at FAAST@ed.ac.uk.