- Written by Dr Jackie Andrews. Community Paediatrician Goonellabah
Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a lifelong condition where diffuse brain injury is caused by antenatal alcohol use. It is thought that the prevalence of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder may be as high of 2 - 4% of the Australian population. The majority of people with the disorder have not been diagnosed. They are, however, accessing their GP regularly as well as seeing other health professionals due to their multiple difficulties. The Australian diagnostic criteria for FASD are now available online.
GPs should consider FASD particularly in children, young people and young adults who have difficulties in multiple areas. People with FASD present with learning and language difficulties and they may have a present or past diagnosis of ADHD and/or Autism.
- Written by Alannah Mann, Pharmacist Alstonville
Australia has high levels of antibiotic usage compared to similar high income countries and antimicrobial resistance is now a significant issue for healthcare workers and their patients(1). Urinary tract infections (UTI) are the most common indication for antibiotics in nursing homes and whilst they are mainly used to treat cystitis, they are often used for asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB) and pyelonephritis(2).
The 2017 Aged Care National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey (acNAPS) found continuing high rates of inappropriate antimicrobial use in aged care homes(2), presenting an opportunity for all health care professionals to use antimicrobial stewardship practices to optimise antimicrobial usage in nursing homes(1). Furthermore, addressing antimicrobial usage in nursing homes will contribute to an overall reduction of antimicrobials within Australia and reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance.
- Written by Andrew Binns
While in some ways we are more connected to each other than ever before, electronic communication is not a substitute for human contact. Facebook and other forms of social media are not for everyone, and, even for those that use such platforms, there is a limit to the emotional satisfaction one can gain from these ‘fast’ and often superficial means of communication.
In recent years, there has been a great deal of research into the effect of technological communication on mental health. Despite there being many positive attributes to these online modes (such as a more democratic representation of voices), they can lack humanity. Email does not conjure the same feeling as posting a letter; even handwritten aerograms sent overseas to loved ones a few decades ago seemed to have more meaning. Similarly, the user-experience of online mass media differs from reading printed copy, and quality journalism seems to have suffered across the board. In turn, as discussed recently on ABC radio, we are seeing a turning away from ‘too-much-ness’ and an ‘attention economy’ with a return to ‘slow journalism’ and more meaningful forms of communication.
In a “Dear Doctor” letter to the state’s medical practitioners the NSW Health Secretary Elizabeth Koff has advised that the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019, passed on 2 October after criticism by objecting MPs and their supporters, means that terminations are now legal but must be reported within 28 days of the procedure.
The single-page notification form requires information on the LHD in which the woman resides, the gestation of the foetus - ranging from under 9 weeks to 22 weeks, after which special conditions apply - where the termination took place (public or private hospital, or non-hospital facility), the postcode of the provider, and perhaps more controversially, whether the termination was carried out “for the sole purpose of sex selection”, unless the foetus had medical conditions.
During the acrimonious debates that preceded the bill’s passing a number of critics suggested that certain ethnic communities preferred male children and would seek to abort girls.
While the government considers mandatory bottle warning labels about the risks of alcohol to unborn babies, the alcohol lobby is reacting in a similar way to tobacco marketers more than twenty years ago.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) has released a draft label for alcohol bottles, with a graphic showing a silhouette of a pregnant woman and the message, ‘‘Health warning: Any amount of alcohol can harm your baby’’.
Submissions to the FSANZ process closed on 4 October 2019.
Both governments advise women not to consume any alcohol during pregnancy: “Exposure of the foetus to alcohol can cause a range of physical, cognitive, behavioural and neurodevelopmental disabilities, collectively known as Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).”
Simply put, “FASD is preventable by avoiding alcohol consumption during pregnancy.”
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