Don’t drink during pregnancy
Graham Allen MP, Chair of the Rebalancing the Outer Estates Foundation, has strongly welcomed the new guidelines on alcohol in pregnancy. “There has been too much mincing of words when local mums need clarity, so I’m delighted that the UK Chief Medical Officer has said :
• If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.
• Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby.
Graham said: ‘Nottingham North has unacceptably high levels of alcohol abuse. It is essential that our children are born healthy and free of the very harmful and life-long impacts of alcohol drinking in pregnancy. Until now the government messages have not been clear – but now the medical guidance is clear : ‘ no alcohol=no harm’. Every health worker, every friend ,every family member must get this simple message out there, support mums to be and not encourage them to drink when they are pregnant. The Rebalancing the Outer Estates Charity is pressing Government to do a prevalence study in Nottm North to see how widespread Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is, which can have such devastating impact on the unborn’ s development.”’
Lynne McNiven, Public Health consultant at Nottingham City Council said ‘we have developed a partnership approach to reducing alcohol intake among pregnant women in the city, working with specialist midwives and talking to women to get their views. We know it can be difficult to talk about drinking in pregnancy but, we know there is no safe level of alcohol when you are pregnant therefore, it is imperative we support women to not drink. Health and social care professionals are working hard to inform and support pregnant women and their families to make sure babies in Nottingham get the best start in life’.
The Rebalancing Foundation is working with national experts and researchers to establish the prevalence rate of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FAASD). FASD is an umbrella term covering a range of lifelong conditions. The level and nature of the conditions under this term relate to the amount drunk and the developmental stage of the foetus at the time.
The CMO guidance states that drinking heavily during pregnancy can cause a baby to develop foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is a serious condition, in which children have: • restricted growth • facial abnormalities • learning and behavioural disorders, which are long lasting and may be lifelong
Drinking lesser amounts than this either regularly during pregnancy or in episodes of heavier drinking (binge drinking), is associated with a group of conditions within FASD. These conditions include physical, mental and behavioural features including learning disabilities which can have lifelong implications. The risk of such problems is likely to be greater the more you drink.
Recent reviews have shown that the risks include low birth weight, preterm birth, and being small for gestational age. The safest option is not to drink alcohol at all during pregnancy.
The proposed guideline takes account of the known harmful actions of alcohol on the foetus; the evidence for the level of risk from drinking; the need for suitable clarity and simplicity in providing meaningful advice for women.