In a study published this week in the BMJ Open comprehensive, multidisciplinary assessments, using Australian diagnostic criteria for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) were undertaken on a representative group of 99 young people incarcerated in Western Australia’s only youth detention facility.

Over a third (36%) of those assessed were found to have a diagnosis of FASD but only two had been previously diagnosed. As one of the researchers from the Telethon Kids Institute explained:

“These young people’s previous contacts with government agencies represented missed opportunities for earlier diagnosis and intervention, which could have prevented or mitigated their involvement with justice services – and more importantly may have permitted alternative community care with targeted health and educational interventions and rehabilitation.”