A MEDICAL expert has spoken out over the dangers of pregnant Wearside women drinking.
Dr Shonag Mackenzie, of Northumbria Healthcare Trust, is warning mums-to-be that Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), can greatly affect babies physical, mental and behavioural well-being.
Figures released by North East alcohol office Balance show that one in 500 children are born with FAS and one out of every 100 children are born with alcohol-related disorders from the spectrum Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
Dr Mackenzie, who was speaking as part of Alcohol Awareness Week, said: “Medical advice around drinking in pregnancy can be confusing and some women think that it’s OK to have a couple of glasses of wine.
“But drinking a couple of glasses of wine a night is classed as binge drinking – something that can be devastating to the foetus.
“The National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome UK believes that as many as one in 100 babies are likely to be born with FASD but most of these go undiagnosed because there is so little awareness of the disorder.
“Children with FASD can look normal but go on to have learning difficulties at school such as struggling to tell the time or having difficulties with numeracy and literacy.
“They can also suffer from behavioural issues and could even go into criminal activity.
“The trouble is that these issues can simply be passed off as a difficult child and the condition goes undetected.
“I know myself that women can be afraid to disclose to midwives about their drinking habits during pregnancy.
“Perhaps this is because they are worried about the harm they may have done or they don’t see it as a big issue but we need to let them know how important it could be.”
Women who choose to drink alcohol during pregnancy should consume no more than one to two units once or twice a week after the first three months of the pregnancy.
Dr Mackenzie added that by drinking alcohol, pregnant mums can greatly harm the development of their baby.
She said: “Babies’ brains are extremely delicate as they develop – particularly in those first 12 weeks – and any alcohol passes straight through the placenta. You wouldn’t give a new-born baby a glass of wine in its bottle but that’s essentially what you’re doing if you drink when pregnant.
“It is never too late to stop drinking as the harm can occur right up to the end of pregnancy.
“It’s critical that we get the message across because FASD is the biggest cause of learning disability and yet is 100 per cent preventable.”
For more information go to www.balancenortheast.co.uk.