Alcohol and pregnancy

 

Sir, – Your editorial (July 8th) highlighted the significant public health concerns posed by drinking during pregnancy, pointing out that more than 45 per cent of Irish women engaging in binge-drinking during the first trimester.

As you also noted, the consequences of even regular moderate drinking during pregnancy constitutes a serious risk of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Syndrome (FASD).

In view of the broad range of health effects of FASD to mothers and their children, it is astounding that our Department of Health and the HSE is doing little or nothing to tackle alcohol abuse in pregnancy. The seeds of many serious physical, behavioural and intellectual problems are sown in pregnancy as a result of exposure to maternal alcohol consumption.

However, despite the fact that considerable resources are allocated to dealing with all kinds of child-related health issues, it is apparent that the potentially catastrophic effects of alcohol in pregnancy are all but ignored by the very agencies that could and must do something about it.

As you rightly point out in your editorial, health education is vital, as is controlling the minimum price of alcohol and restricting availability. But what you fail to appreciate is the fact that the free-for-all marketing and promotion of alcohol in this country gives rise to a situation whereby many people are either unaware of the damage that alcohol causes in pregnancy or they choose to ignore the potentially harmful effects of alcohol abuse for themselves and for their children.

Education and control are all very well but continuing to allow the drinks industry to brainwash people from an early age into believing that alcohol is something other than a legally available dangerous substance bodes ill for this country. – Yours, etc,

Dr MICHAEL LOFTUS,

Crossmolina,

Co Mayo.