Thursday 27 April 2017

'Adults with foetal alcohol syndrome fill our jails' - doctor calls for more education on drinking while pregnant

Stock image Photo: PA
Stock image Photo: PA
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

More education on the dangers of drinking while pregnant is needed a leading doctor has said, as an estimated 600 babies are born with foetal alcohol syndrome in Ireland each year.

Ireland is one of the top five countries where pregnant mums consume alcohol while pregnant.

Data due to be discussed by experts today heard that around 600 babies are born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) each year.

Research will be presented to the Irish Medical Organisation’s (IMO) AGM by Dr Mary T O’Mahony in Galway today.

According to the data 80pc of Irish mothers reported consuming alcohol during their pregnancy.

“Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a permanent disability called Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The consequences are induced brain damage which is permanent and is associated with physical, mental, educational, social and behavioural difficulties," Dr. O’Mahony said.

In some cases the symptoms of FAS are immediately recognisable at birth, while in other cases it may not become a concern until pre-school when developmental issues emerge.

Children born with FAS can show sever brain dysfunction, attention problems, lower IQs and dysfunction in areas such as language, memory and activity level.

“Children with FASD fill our foster care places, adults with FAS fill our jails and many people are misdiagnosed”, she said.

The doctor called for more supports to help women abstain from alcohol during pregnancy and breatfeeding.

"Most people know that drinking alcohol while pregnant can harm the baby, but lots of women still have questions about drinking during pregnancy.  The long-term goal is to prevent Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder”, Dr. O’Mahony said.

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