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Dublin: 8°C Sunday 7 March 2021

"Conflicting advice" leading to thousands of Irish women drinking alcohol while pregnant

Alcohol Action Ireland and three maternity hospitals have launched a new campaign aiming to advise women of the risks.

Image: drinking while pregnant via Shutterstock

A NEW CAMPAIGN is warning women of the damage that drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause to unborn children.

Studies have revealed that between 60 and 80 per cent of Irish women said that drank at some point during their pregnancy.

Working with charity Alcohol Action Ireland, the three largest maternity hospitals aim to highlight the risks of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

“Children born with FAS are those who have been exposed to high levels of alcohol throughout the pregnancy and can experience problems with their growth, facial defects, as well as life-long learning and behavioural problems,” Mary Brosnan, Director of Midwifery and Nursing at the National Maternity Hospital, said.


She noted that the symptoms of FASD can be less obvious, and can include issues with sight, hearing, and concentration.

The other two hospitals involved are the Rotunda and the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital.

new information leaflet to advise women.

Alcohol Action Ireland’s Advocacy Officer Catherine Kane said that said that Irish women continue to drink during pregnancy as conflicting advice exists from different sources, such as confusion over the exact level of alcohol required to cause damage to an unborn child.

“This lack of clarity is another good reason to avoid alcohol completely, because as there is no known ‘safe’ level of alcohol during pregnancy then the safest thing to do is not drink at all,” she added.

Studies in the United States suggest that FAS is present in as many as every 2 births per 1000.

Read: Mental health problems more likely in children of substance misusers >

More: Alcohol Forum says alcohol is wreaking havoc on communities around Ireland >

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Nicky Ryan

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