A mum who adopted a girl whose health has been hit by the affects of drinking while she was still in the womb, has spoken about her first-hand experiences of the condition.
Sarah Walker, from Durham, adopted Amy, 11, who suffers from Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), is looking to raise awareness of its impact.
Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is encouraging mums-to-be to avoid drinking alcohol completely during pregnancy, as part of this year’s campaign to raise awareness of the condition.
FASD is a series of preventable birth defects, both mental and physical, caused by drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy.
Sarah said: “I knew from the start that I wanted to adopt a child with special needs. When we got Amy she was just 13 months old.
“We were told that her birth mother had been an alcoholic and that, as a result, Amy had FASD.
“I didn’t know anything about the condition or how it might affect Amy growing up, but I started to research into it right away.”
Amy has suffered seizures, behavioural problems, issues with speech and language.
Sarah added: “My family live through the effects FASD has had on Amy every day.
“We know first-hand just how much damage drinking during pregnancy can cause.
“I want to tell everyone who is thinking of becoming a parent, that no alcohol is the only option.”
Mary Edwards, programme manager for alcohol treatment at Balance, said: “The safest option is to stop drinking alcohol when trying to conceive or as soon as you find out you are expecting.”
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) advises pregnant women to avoid alcohol in the first three months, because of the increased risk of miscarriage.
However, researchers do not know how much alcohol is safe to drink when pregnant.
A review of Government guidance is underway by the Chief Medical Officer.