Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Day 9th September 2008

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Day 9th September 2008

“Put pregnancy drink risk health warning’ label on alcoholic drinks”  

Women have the right to know how their health and their children’s health is being affected – two thirds of women still drinking during pregnancy

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, today called on the Government to put health warning labels on alcoholic drinks as part of an overall awareness initiative on the risks of drinking during pregnancy.

Alcohol Action Ireland Director Fiona Ryan said: “Today is Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Day (9th September). Women have the right to know how their health and the health of their children is being affected by drinking during pregnancy. Exposure of the foetus to alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of damage to the baby which can have long term behavioural, social, learning and attention difficulties for children and teenagers and at the most severe end of the spectrum a child’s height, facial features and nervous system can also be affected.

“According to the   Department of Health and Children there is no known safe level of alcohol during pregnancy; drinking more than three alcoholic drinks a day increases the risk of miscarriage and more than 12 drinks in a week increases the risk of premature birth.”  

Ms Ryan said a recent study of 43,818 women who attended the Coombe Women’s Hospital showed that women were still unaware of the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy with 36,108 continuing to drink versus 4,752 who stopping drinking during their pregnancy. This compares with 50% of women who smoked giving up smoking during their pregnancy.    

The Alcohol Action Ireland Director said: “What this points to is a real lack of awareness of the risks associated with drinking alochol during pregnacy. It is time Government put health-warning labels on non-draft drinks as a first step to creating awareness of these risks. Women have the right to know how their health is being impacted as well as the health of their children.  

“Labelling is a first step to a general awareness raising initiative. A set of clear guidelines on the risks associated with drinking in pregnancy is also needed so it can be delivered by key professionals such as GPs, midwives, obstetricians and public health nurses. That message could also be reproduced on publications and websites specifically geared to pregnant women. The aim is that women educate themselves on the risks to themselves and their children.”

Ms Ryan advised that for pregnant women who had tried to stop drinking and had been unable to do so, it is was imperative they told their doctor, midwife or nurse.  

For more information contact:

Alcohol Action Ireland Information Officer Niamh Tierney 01 878 0610  or  Director Fiona Ryan on 087 219 5723.

Note to the Editor:

Alcohol Action Ireland’s initiative to raise awareness of the risks associated with drinking during pregnancy, as part of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance is supported by:  

Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME) CPME aims to promote the highest standards of medical training and medical practice in order to achieve the highest quality of health care for all citizens of Europe.

European Midwives Association (EMA) EMA aims to represent all midwives in the EU and the wider European area, to maintain, and where possible, to improve the health and welfare of women and their families.