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Mums-to-be warn of dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy

Mums to be warn of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy

Mums to be warn of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy

Posted 09/09/15

A group of mums-to-be are warning of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy, urging women to avoid alcohol altogether for the full nine months.

Laura Paterson, Leanne Kettlewell and Lauren Williams, who all attend The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, donned T-shirts with the ‘0-4-9’ message to mark International FASD Awareness Day on September 9th.

FASD or Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, affects 1 in 100 babies each year, is a series of preventable birth defects, both mental and physical, caused by drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy. These defects of the brain and the body exist only because of prenatal exposure to alcohol.

The group are backing calls by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, for consistent and clear guidelines advising pregnant women that the safest option is no alcohol from conception to birth – a message which already has the backing of the North East’s 12 Directors of Public Health.

Kay Branch, The James Cook University Hospital’s midwife consultant, said: “Women do not always realise the risk to the unborn baby when consuming alcohol and that the effects can be toxic and very damaging to the growth and development of their baby.

“We therefore need to raise awareness of the 0-4-9 message among health professionals and pregnant women as early as possibly in pregnancy. The best time to stop drinking is pre-conceptually to give any pregnancy and unborn baby the best start in life.”

Mary Edwards, Programme Manager Alcohol Treatment at Balance, said: “It’s fantastic that these mums-to-be in Middlesbrough have come together to urge other women that no alcohol during pregnancy is the safest option.

“Lots of mums-to-be haven’t heard about FASD and the lifelong disabilities that come with it. It’s vitally important that we raise awareness of the condition and the fact that it is preventable by avoiding alcohol during pregnancy.

“There are so many mixed messages around alcohol and pregnancy and it’s understandable that women are confused by this. The safest option is to stop drinking alcohol when trying to conceive or as soon as you find out you are expecting.”

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises women who are pregnant to avoid alcohol in the first three months in particular, because of the increased risk of miscarriage. However, researchers don’t know how much alcohol is safe to drink when pregnant. They do know that the risk of damage to your unborn baby increases the more you drink and that binge drinking is especially harmful.

A review of Government guidance on drinking alcohol when pregnant is currently underway by the Chief Medical Officer.