Number of children affected by mother’s alcohol use while pregnant is ‘snowballing’
The number of children in care affected by their mother’s alcohol use during pregnancy is “snowballing”, a doctor has warned the United Kingdom.
Between 50 and 60% of children in the care of Gateshead Council are estimated to have some form of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Dr Helen Palmer told the authority’s parenting scrutiny committee.
We have always known alcohol affects children by causing physical disabilities but now it is becoming apparent that alcohol causes damage to a lot more children than we previously thought. The number of children with FASD is snowballing.”
FASD could be root of many conditions
Alcohol causes brain damage in the developing foetus.
Many children have previously been diagnosed with other conditions, such as autism, ADHD or attachment disorders, when their behavioural problems and learning difficulties could have been caused by FASD. For example, young people with FASD often have the maturity and ability to learn of a child half their age.
FASD is caused by women using alcohol while pregnant, often before they even knew they were pregnant. As such FASD is preventable. It is one of the gravest examples for alcohol’s harm to others.
When speaking to pregnant women we need to ask them more about their alcohol. We ask a lot about drug use because they are illegal but not enough about alcohol,” Dr Palmer explained.
For too long we have been giving mixed messages about how much is alright to drink while pregnant, only recently have we said pregnant women shouldn’t drink at all, we are 20 years behind much of the rest of the western world in that advice.”