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A Research Connections Feature: Advancements in FASD Symposium

Here at SHRF we value collaboration and seek to facilitate the creation of partnerships among researchers, health care providers, patients and families, communities, not-for-profits and industry. Through our Research Connections program, we support knowledge exchange through health research events including conferences, major meetings and research days that are organized and held in Saskatchewan.

This October we were proud to support an event that brought experts together to apply research to practice and that focused on providing optimum diagnosis and care for patients with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) through continuous learning.

Here’s what organizers had to say about the success and importance of this event:

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a term that refers to disabilities that can occur across the lifespan resulting from a fetus being exposed to alcohol in the womb. Although it is very difficult to establish prevalence, the current estimated rate of FASD ranges from 1% to 5% in Canada. There are many barriers that need to be overcome in Saskatchewan and across Canada to better support individuals with FASD. A recent two-part Research Connections event tried to begin to address some of these challenges.

On October 24, 2016 a morning training workshop on the medical and psychiatric diagnosis of FASD in Canada gathered 65 professionals including physicians, residents, social workers, nurses, psychologists, students and researchers. It is very common for FASD to go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed so a focus of the morning sessions was educating attendees on how to better recognize and screen the patients they see. The workshop also provided training on the Canadian guidelines for diagnosing FASD, recently updated in 2015. From the perspective of the attendees, highlights included gaining clarity on the guidelines, receiving diagnostic resources like the Washington Lip and Philtrum Guide and Ruler (provided by the Lakeland Centre for FASD), and the practical emphasis of the information presented. One psychiatrist who attended expressed that the information the professionals learned will help them provide “better screening, diagnosis & referral for FASD” in their clinical practices. A Family Doctor felt that the training will encourage her to “work towards on the prevention of FASD with my drinking female patients”.

The afternoon portion of the event hosted an expert panel which brought together a group of 10 international experts with knowledge and clinical experience in using psychotropic medications to treat mental illness in individuals with FASD. Given approximately nine out 10 individuals with FASD also face challenges with mental health, focusing on psychotropic medication is incredibly relevant and necessary amongst this population. The expert panel discussions were based on the research including a systematic review conducted by Dr. Mansfield Mela and his team at the Psycholegal and FASD Research Lab in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan. The experts sought to create recommendations for the first-ever psychotropic algorithm for FASD – a set of consistent, systematic guidelines for physicians to follow when using medication in the treatment mental illness for patients with FASD. As little to no resources exist in this area, the event was a building block to creating evidence-based recommendations for physicians prescribing these medications as well as for individuals with FASD and their caregivers to be able to understand how the medications they are being prescribed fit within the evidence.

Read more about this event and other related resources:

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