UK: Young Adults Unaware of Alcohol Risks During Pregnancy
Many young adults in Britain are unaware of the alcohol risks during pregnancy. This is specifically alarming considering the baby boom expected in the aftermath of coronavirus crisis lockdown measures that is coinciding with reports of increased alcohol use during lockdown.
The National Organization for FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders), conducted a study among 2000 British people to assess their knowledge and awareness about alcohol risks during pregnancy. The study among 18- to 25-year olds found the following:
- A quarter don’t know that women shouldn’t consume alcohol during pregnancy;
- Only 26% were aware that according to official guidelines, a woman should avoid alcohol completely when pregnant (supply);
- Nearly half (49%) said they received information about alcohol during pregnancy through social media, while four in ten discussed it with a teacher.
Information is power. It is very worrying that so few young people are aware of the dangers,” said Sandra Butcher, general manager of the UK branch of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS-UK), as per Whats New 2 Day.
It has been well established through evidence-based science that no amount of alcohol is safe for the baby, before conception, during pregnancy and after birth while breast-feeding the baby.
The liver is one of the last organs to finish growing in the womb, so babies exposed to alcohol may not have natural defenses against the damage – in adult humans, the liver filters alcohol to reduce damage.
Alcohol consumption during the first trimester can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, or low birth weight.
While alcohol use later in pregnancy increases the chances of the baby being born with health problems. One serious health condition babies develop due to alcohol exposure in the womb is fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
This can cause physical deformities (in particular, the eyes can be set wide apart and a large forehead and a thin upper lip can develop), as well as disabilities. Babies with severe fetal alcohol syndrome can have learning difficulties, behavioral problems, or even develop cerebral palsy.
According to the Mencap charity, around 6,000 to 7,000 babies are born each year in the UK with fetal alcohol syndrome.
The threat of FASD is even greated during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures as reports are highlighting that more people are consuming alcohol in high-risk patterns in the UK.
Experts are fearing that during the public health crisis, couples spending more time together and lack of access to birth control coupled with the reported increases in alcohol consumption during the stay-at-home period could cause a surge in FASD cases.
…during this lockdown it is more difficult to access birth control and pregnancy tests, it is a perfect storm for a possible future revival of FASD,” said Jo Buckard, an expert in FASD, as per Whats New 2 Day.