Monday, 25 June 2012 3:54 PM
TACT responds to 'binge drinking ok' article
TACT was very concerned to read the headline in The Metro newspaper claiming ‘Pregnant? It doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking’.* We were particularly alarmed by the opening headline that claimed ‘women in the early stages of pregnancy can still binge drink safely’.
The Metro’s article was referring to new research by Danish researchers. The research does not suggest that women can now safely drink during pregnancy; it reiterates that the safest choice is not to drink. It did, however, state that, amongst a sample of pregnant women, low to moderate drinking had no significant effect on the neurodevelopment of children aged five.
As a Fostering and Adoption charity that provides care to children affected by maternal drinking during pregnancy, TACT approaches these more moderate findings with caution. Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is life long, permanent brain damage. The effects may include physical, mental, behavioural and learning disabilities. It can affect any child whose mother drank while pregnant. Crucially, FASD remains the largest preventable disability and the leading cause of intellectual disability in the Western World.
Part of the problem with analysing the impact of FASD is that there are many variables and there has been little research. It is a spectrum disorder because the manifestations and consequences are very broad. The foetus develops in stages, so the effect of FASD can vary according the times and amounts the mother was drinking.
TACT is hosting a conference regarding FASD, to education social work, education and health professionals, adoptive parents and carers about the complexities faced by a child with FASD. Importantly, it is also aimed at providing support and strategies to improve the lives of those affected.
*Please note The Metro’s online version of the article differs slightly to the article that appeared in print on Wednesday 20th June.