Australian Women Warned not to drink during Pregnancy
I recently discovered an interesting article on News.com.au which discussed the importance of abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy. According to the experts, there is no level of drinking that can be deemed as “safe” when one is pregnant and in fact they say the effects of drinking during pregnancy may be even more vast than previously suspected.
In the United States of America, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is believed to be responsible for most of developmental delays. The following excerpt from the article on News.com.au explains:
More and more is being understood about foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), an umbrella term for a range of physical, developmental and neurological disabilities resulting from alcohol consumption in pregnancy.
Health experts believe it’s far more widespread than previously believed. In the US, FASD is the most common cause of developmental delay and is estimated to affect between 2 and 7 per cent of all births.
A common misconception is that this condition affects only the more disadvantaged communities but as one professor from the University of Sydney explains, drinking is not confined to socioeconomic groups so neither is FASD. Elizabeth Elliot, a professor of paediatrics and child health at the university explains that it is best to abstain from alcohol because this will ensure that there is no risk of FASD to the child, she goes on to explain:
“What we do know is that women who don’t drink any alcohol during pregnancy face no risks of [this kind of] damage to their foetus,” she says. “Frequent, high intakes of alcohol, and particularly binge drinking, increases the risk.
“What we don’t know is the risk to an individual pregnancy. Each pregnancy is different and every woman’s body responds differently to alcohol consumption because of a range of factors such as age, body composition, genetics and prior disease.”
So, she strongly advises that expecting and trying-to-conceive women apply the precautionary principle as recommended in Australia’s national alcohol guidelines that “not drinking alcohol is the safest option”.
Professor Elliot explains that many of the women in Oz who fall pregnant (around half of them) aren’t planned and a large majority are young women with the habit of binge drinking, this is problematic. Presumably some don’t realise they are pregnant soon enough and others are so use to the habit of binge drinking that they think if they have a few drinks they won’t harm the baby. A shocking study conducted at a leading university showed that most expectant mothers drink alcohol during their pregnancy, the post goes on to explain:
A new study from Newcastle University has revealed that eight in 10 expectant mums drink alcohol in pregnancy – 64 per cent higher than found in other Australian studies.
This follows survey results released last year by the Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education which found that 47 per cent of Australian women interviewed consumed alcohol while pregnant before knowing they’d conceived – and almost 20 per cent drank alcohol after confirmation of their pregnancy.