Monday, January 17, 2011
Foetal Alcohol Disorder - Part Two
Well, pleased as I am that the newspapers have picked up on the dangers of drinking while pregnant, there are some elements of the article in the Examiner, and the Editorial, which need some correction.
Firstly, the article states that one in nine children are born with FAD. Fortunately it is not that bad. It is actually 1 in 100 in the UK (and Canada) and it may be the same here, or perhaps a little worse, if our extra consumption of drink is taken into account.
There are about 900 births here each year, so that equates to about nine children each year who may be affected. Not one in nine as stated.
Secondly, Foetal Alcohol Disorder is NOT any form of ADHD. It is a seperate syndrome caused by the physical effects of alcohol on the foetus while in the womb.
The only connection is that it may be possible that children with FAD are being presumed to have ADHD if a proper diagnosis of the FAD condition has not been made. This is part of the work I am asking Health to undertake - is FAD not being diagnosed on occasions, or does it sometimes get lumped in with ADHD? Are the behaviour problems of these children being masked and labelled as ADHD?
Finally the Examiner editorial. This is in no way an attempt by the Government to interfere in the drinking habits of our population. I am trying to make sure that publicity is given to the real dangers of women drinking while pregnant. I have found that the vast majority of women abstain completely once they know they are expecting - but in my brief research in the last few days I have found that there is an ignorance about the effects of what drink can do to the foetus, and some women may drink without knowing they are pregnant, or without knowing the dangers.
This needs a co-ordination between the Drug and Alcohol Policy, Sexual Health Strategy and education in schools and by Health professionals.
At the Conference last week there were seasoned professionals, including head teachers with years of experience who did not realise that a foetus with no liver was in such danger from alcohol.
But again, thanks for the Examiner for kick starting what I hope may prevent some children from acquiring brain damage.
Foetal Alcohol Disorder is the single largest cause of preventable brain damage in new born children.