New Strategy to Tackle Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
Foetal alcohol syndrome is the direct result of prenatal alcohol exposure and is an increasing problem in Oz and around the world. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol while pregnant, the alcohol enters her bloodstream where it can then reach the developing baby. The more a pregnant woman drinks, the greater the risk to the child.An article from ABC’s website talks of a new strategy to combat foetal alcohol syndrome in Western Australia. The Mental Health Minister has unveiled a set of resources for health workers to use when trying to reduce rates of foetal alcohol syndrome in Indigenous communities.
Even women who have given birth but are still breastfeeding, need to abstain from alcohol because it may be passed to the nursing baby because breast milk contains higher concentrations of water than blood into which alcohol can be absorbed therefore the alcohol in breast milk is more concentrated and the effects of this alcohol can be passed on to the feeding baby.
The packs include resources such as flip charts and cards that are aimed at creating awareness around the dangers of drinking while pregnant and the significant harm it can have on the unborn child. The campaign will be conducted across regional Western Australia as part of the government’s ongoing campaign to raise awareness about the hazards of drinking while pregnant.
The article below on Abc.net.au explains further:
There is no standardized testing for the physical and mental impairments associated with the syndrome but rates are believed to be higher than average in Aboriginal communities.
Helen Morton says there is an increasing amount of preventative work being done.
“People are starting to have a much clearer understanding about alcohol and its problems associated with pregnancy,” she said.
“So when I talk about it being an emerging issue, I think it’s more about people’s awareness and understanding that’s emerging.
“There is a lot of work happening and I think we have to be prepared to see that it’s more of an emerging understanding and an awareness rather than that we’re 100 per cent satisfied with things.
“But there is a lot of work happening both at a research level and also at the drug and alcohol office, focusing on prevention.”
The effects of alcohol on the foetus are more than just immediate, there are long lasting effects which the child will suffer from later on in life. The effect of alcohol consumption can be seen in childhood years, right into adulthood. Some of the reported symptoms include heart defects, developmental problems, low birth weight, adult developmental delays, learning difficulties, behavioural problems and make them vulnerable to mental illness.
The only way to prevent foetal alcohol syndrome is to abstain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Hopefully the efforts of the mental health minister and government will be enough to minimise the alcohol related mental problems plaguing many babies in Western Australia.