Alcohol in pregnancy

 

Sir, – The effects of drinking while pregnant (Editorial, July 8th) are not always evident at birth, so, sadly, challenges caused by prenatal alcohol exposure which manifest later on are not always linked back to ante-natal experience.

The reported numbers of those drinking in pregnancy (“Drinking during pregnancy is rife, study finds”, July 7th) are of particular concern as the prevalence of people with any of the conditions among Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is not being accounted for in Ireland.

Diagnostic services need to be updated not least because neurodevelopmental disorder from prenatal alcohol exposure is now listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders widely used by psychiatrists. To date, FASD has been very much under-recognised in this country.

This further complicates issues because specific understanding is needed for establishing best practice interventions for these lifelong compromising conditions, which are avoidable if mums don’t drink at all while pregnant or trying to become so.

It is time that public health alcohol policy strongly drove this issue home in conjunction with the principles behind the First 1,000 Days programme.

To uphold safest and best practice, as well as to be utterly fair to women, it is time that professionals, including some obstetricians and gynaecologists, (who would be very much against smoking in pregnancy), desisted from giving less than best-practice messages about alcohol in pregnancy, not least because it has been known since 1996 that alcohol has far more deleterious outcomes for baby than smoking.

– Yours, etc,

MICHELE SAVAGE,

Co-founder,

FASD Ireland,

2 Glendale Park,

Dublin 12.