Project Lead

Rochelle Lester

Lead partner

Royal Women’s Hospital

MacHSR Future Leaders Fellowship program (2023 cohort).

Infants who are antenatally exposed to alcohol and other drugs (AOD) are highly vulnerable and at risk of adverse developmental outcomes. This population of infants is incredibly vulnerable and under-researched. It is difficult to screen for developmental concerns in a cohort where there is often poor health literacy, and where limited engagement with services may impact on timely identification of developmental concerns and early support or intervention. It is therefore paramount that we offer streamlined, coordinated and multidisciplinary services that improve equity of access to, and provision of, developmental monitoring and support services to infants who are antenatally exposed to AOD. The goal is to reduce the variation in service delivery, thereby providing the opportunity to improve developmental outcomes for this highly vulnerable population and ensuring there are appropriate supports in place for them and their families to break the intergenerational cycle of adversity.

This project will involve working collaboratively with the Women’s Alcohol and Drug Service Team at The Royal Women’s Hospital to improve the care of newborns exposed to AOD in the antenatal period. I hope the Fellowship Program will allow us to improve referral pathways and ensure these highly vulnerable infants receive coordinated, multidisciplinary follow up which supports development and facilitates timely referral to developmental support services in the community where indicated.