Fetal alcohol syndrome guidelines on way

Hallmark physical features such as a thin upper lip and stunted growth should form the backbone of Australia’s diagnostic criteria for fetal alcohol syndrome, experts say.

The criteria were chosen by clear consensus among more than 70 experts in the field — a key first step towards filling the void of standardised, locally tailored diagnostic guidelines.

Professor Elizabeth Elliott, a University of Sydney paediatrician working on the project, said the lack of a unified approach meant the true prevalence of the condition remained unknown in Australia, with many diagnoses likely being missed.

Having established expert consensus, Professor Elliott and colleagues are now developing a diagnostic protocol, with funding from the Department of Health and Ageing.

Seventy-four experts took part in the online survey, which assessed