Manitoba FASD research gets $1.35M boost
Research that aims to find new ways to detect fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) earlier in children has received a financial boost of more than a million dollars.
Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries announced Tuesday that it's giving $1.35 million to the Canada-Israel International Fetal Alcohol Consortium, which consists of research teams from the University of Manitoba and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The money will support three Manitoba-based projects looking at the role of genetics to identify children with FASD at a younger age — possibly even at birth — and finding out if food may reduce the risk of FASD when mothers drink alcohol during pregnancy.
Dr. Geoff Hicks, director of the regenerative medicine program at the University of Manitoba, says only 10 per cent of children show any physical characteristics of FASD, making it difficult to diagnose the remaining 90 per cent.
"The facial features can be identified very early in a child's development," Hicks said Tuesday.
"We really need these new tools to allow clinicians to identify children at risk early," he added.
Orlene Bernier, who teaches a class of eight students with FASD at Shaugnessy Park School in Winnipeg, says the earlier the diagnosis, the better it can be for children.
That's because children who are diagnosed early can get the help and attention they need and get into a special education class designed for them, she said.
"The kids who have gone through the program are making it to high school," she said, adding that some of her past students are also graduating from high school.
Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries says it commits two per cent of its annual net income — totalling $11.6 million this year — toward social responsibility research, education and awareness programs.