‘The dangers of drinking during pregnancy need to be taken more seriously’ – Miriam Stoppard

Dr Miriam Stoppard writes: Up to one in 30 babies have symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, such as learning difficulties, and this topic has been ignored for too long.

Prenatal alcohol exposure affects brain development

When it comes to the topic of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), I must admit that I am not objective. That’s because I’ve witnessed how terrible drinking can be for an unborn baby Baby.

FASD is a condition caused by exposure to alcohol before birth. It affects brain development and leads to developmental, physical and sometimes mental health problems, which last a lifetime.

The government has been trying for years to meet the health needs of FASD infants, and their long-awaited report was only released recently. But does it go far enough?

Why has it taken so long to get to this stage – realizing that an important problem exists?

Yes, there are some controversial factors. We don’t want to make pregnant moms feel guilty about having a glass of wine. Some worry about the erosion of motherhood. Then there’s the debate about how harmful drinking alcohol during pregnancy is.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can harm the baby (Stock Photo)


Getty Images / iStockphoto)

In addition, the long interval between alcohol exposure in the womb and later developmental difficulties makes diagnosis difficult. Lack of access to diagnostic and treatment services leads to many difficulties that sufferers and their families face, affecting their daily lives and also their future.

FASD is not uncommon, rarely diagnosed. One in every 25-30 children has autism, and it is possible that many children with FASD also have autism and attention deficit disorder.

Scotland is in much better shape than Britain, with quality standards for FASD reflecting evidence-based guidelines, a BMJ editorial reported.

UK’s NICE plans to follow Scotland’s example by providing advice and information during pregnancy, assessment and diagnosis in children with neurodevelopmental problems, and help and support patient.

The Government report points to the sad reality that only 22% of the medical team actually provides diagnostic services for FASD in children and 8.4% for adults.

There is also a ZIP Code Lottery as effective help and support is only available in certain areas of the country. However, these areas will lead the way for a nationwide rollout.

One bright spot in the report highlights the needs of individuals throughout their lives and seeks closer cooperation between the health, social care, education and justice departments.

And how about a sponsoring body for FASD for the UK that would encourage partnerships between the health professions and professional organizations to ensure the voices of those affected are heard?

We have to do better for one in 25-30 children with this preventable condition.

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Fry Electronics Team

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