Sunday 22 April 2018

Testing mothers for alcohol consumption during pregnancy could reduce risk to babies

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Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

A proposal calling for alcohol testing during pregnancy was passed at the Irish Medical Organisation’s annual conference last weekend.

The tests can detect alcohol for up to five days after consumption and can be done during regular medical check-ups, according to former IMO president Dr Ann Hogan.

The measure could reduce incidences of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Ireland, it was proposed. Symptoms of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders can include low IQ, behavioural problems and small head size.

“Women have been getting mixed messages about drinking during pregnancy… [the tests] will tell the true incidence of what is going on,” Dr Hogan said.

She told Newstalk Breakfast today that there is no safe level of drinking in pregnancy.

“You have to tell people directly that they are putting their baby at risk. Having evidence helps,” she said.

“I’m not aware of any safe level of drinking during pregnancy. The advice is that it is important not to drink during pregnancy. To take a pregnant pause. To pause from drinking during pregnancy.”

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