Swanswell welcomes calls for fresh approach to tackling FASD

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Swanswell’s welcoming a report calling for a fresh approach to tackling a condition affecting children exposed to alcohol in the womb during their mother’s pregnancy.

The government and public bodies have a duty to keep information clear and simple – if you want to avoid risking the health of your child, don’t drink alcohol when pregnant

The national recovery charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to the ‘Consensus Statement on FASD’, published this week by the Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Trust.

The report warns that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) – an umbrella term for a range of conditions caused by excessive alcohol exposure in the womb.

Effects of FASD can by physical – such as particular facial characteristics – but also mental or behavioural, such as anxiety, social communication difficulties, poor attention and even criminal behaviour.

The report says current UK guidance – pregnant women should avoid alcohol completely but if they choose to drink, they should limit consumption to between one or two units, once or twice a week – is a mixed message, and that mothers-to-be should simply avoid alcohol (reports the Guardian).

Swanswell believes that the report, backed by nearly 70 medical professionals, adds weight to the need for clearer information around alcohol and pregnancy, so they can make an informed decision about their alcohol use.

Chris Robinson, Swanswell’s Director of Services, said: ‘The report by the Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Trust has re-ignited the debate around drinking alcohol during pregnancy and highlights some of the mixed messaging expectant mothers face.

‘In the last year alone, a Danish study suggested that up to eight units of alcohol per week during pregnancy had no obvious impact on children at age five (BBC News).

‘Meanwhile the Department of Health suggests drinking no alcohol during pregnancy but if expectant mothers do decide to drink, to have only one or two units, once or twice a week (NHS).

‘The report recommends a need for clearer information for mothers-to-be and further education to help health professionals recognise FASD symptoms, which will certainly be useful as expectant mothers already face a huge amount of health advice.

‘The government and public bodies have a duty to keep information clear and simple – if you want to avoid risking the health of your child, don’t drink alcohol when pregnant.’

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Stuart Goodwin
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