600 babies born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome every year

Around 600 babies are born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome in Ireland each year.

The disorder can be caused by drinking during pregnancy and can lead to severe brain dysfunction and development.

80% of Irish women reported consuming some alcohol during their first pregnancy.

The figures were revealed at the Irish Medical Organisation's AGM in Galway which runs until Sunday.

Dr. Mary T. O’Mahony, Specialist in Public Health Medicine at the HSE said: “Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a permanent disability called Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The consequences are induced brain damage which is permanent and is associated with physical, mental, educational, social and behavioural difficulties.”

Children born with FAS can show the following:-

  • 50% development preschool normal.
  • All severe brain dysfunction at 10years.
  • 10% attention problem at 5 years.
  • 60% attention problem at 10 years.
  • Only 30% IQ below normal, BUT 100% severe dysfunction in areas (eg. language, memory, activity level).

Addressing the IMO AGM Dr. Mary O’Mahony said that FASD has a huge societal impact and many children are misdiagnosed. “Children with FASD fill our Foster Care places, adults with FAS fill our jails and many people are misdiagnosed”, she said.

Dr. O’Mahony called for more support for women and more resources in the form of screening and interventions for alcohol and health promotion campaigns to educate women on the consequences of drinking during pregnancy.

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