145 babies had alcohol withdrawal symptoms
AT least 145 babies were born in the country's main maternity hospitals in just three years suffering from alcohol withdrawal, new figures reveal.
The newborns were suffering from delirium tremens -- commonly known as the 'DTs' -- because of their mothers' heavy drinking. The DTs can begin hours after birth and symptoms include body tremors, seizures and irregular heart beat.
Figures compiled by the Health Service Executive (HSE) show that at least 145 babies were born with the condition in the Rotunda Hospital, the Coombe Hospital and National Maternity Hospital between 2008 and 2010.
Siobhan O' Halloran, national lead in the acute hospital services section of the HSE, said a study in the Coombe Hospital showed that the 80pc of the 61,241 women who booked for a pregnancy appointment and delivered babies between 2000 and 2007 had admitted drinking alcohol.
Some 71pc reported a low alcohol intake of five units or less a week, while 9.9pc described their consumption as moderate with 6-20 units a week.
However 0.2pc -- 114 mothers -- had a high intake of 20 units of alcohol a week.
They found one case of foetal alcohol syndrome in each of the three levels of drinkers.
Pregnant women who drank a moderate amount of alcohol were more likely to smoke, be employed and to have private health insurance compared to those who never drank.
Excessive exposure to alcohol can cause damage to the baby and affect their development, leading to low birth weight, heart defects, learning and behavioural disorders, facial deformities, poor memory or a short attention span.
"Factors associated with high intake compared to no intake included being less than 25 years old, being single, being Irish, having an unplanned pregnancy, being a smoker or a user of illicit drugs," Ms O'Halloran said.