Sunderland mum warns against drinking during pregnancy

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A MUM today warned of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.

A national awareness day was held yesterday for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) – a series of preventable birth defects, both mental and physical, caused by a mum-to-be boozing at any time during her pregnancy.

A new study suggests that about 300 babies born each year in the North East may suffer from the condition and 26,000 people in the North East could be affected.

Sunderland woman Sara adopted two young siblings who had been placed in the care system as babies.

Although one was born prematurely, both were considered to be in good health and were under two when Sara adopted them.

But as the older child got to pre-school age, Sara noticed she was regularly bumping into things and was concerned she still wasn’t sleeping through the night. She was eventually diagnosed with FASD.

“My eldest has a severe sensory dysfunction; she can fall and receive a head injury without even feeling it but on other days just putting her clothes on can cause her physical pain,” said Sara.

“Sometimes the sensory overload gets so much that she has what I call a meltdown, and this can sometimes happen twice a day. A meltdown can range from shouting abuse and slamming doors to trashing rooms as well as hitting, nipping, biting and scratching.

“It can go on for hours at a time and she ends up so upset and tired by the end.

“This is because she cannot cope with the brain overload, as people with FASD process information much more slowly and also all of the senses can be taking information in at once.”

Campaigners say mums should abstain from drinking throughout pregnancy.

Mary Edwards, programme manager for alcohol treatment at the North East alcohol office Balance, said: “It’s clear that FASD can have a devastating impact on the lives of children and the entire family.

“It’s important to stress that there is no safe limit when it comes to alcohol and pregnancy and experts say that abstinence is the only safe policy for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.”