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Ireland contemplates alcohol test for pregnant women as FASD cases soar

Ireland contemplates alcohol test for pregnant women as FASD cases soar

Drinking alcohol does more damage to a woman than to a man. However, ignorant of the fact, more and more women across the world are taking to drinking. Like many other western nations, Ireland has also witnessed a growing trend of drinking among women. So much so that the Irish authorities are concerned. Now, the Irish Medical Organization (IMO) has made a proposal to conduct alcohol screening test for pregnant women.

According to IMO, the measure will help reduce the number of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) among babies. It is worth noting that Ireland has one of the highest prevalence rates of FASD, including fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), as a consequence of unhindered drinking of alcohol by pregnant women.

Apart from triggering intellectual disability, birth abnormalities, and developmental disorders, FAS can also result in long-term implications such as poor memory, hyperactivity, learning disorders and attention deficit issues.

 Further study needed to establish the harm caused by alcohol

For the past several decades, women have been advised to exercise abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy. One study showed that as compared to nondrinkers, pregnant women who drink alcohol are more likely to have kids who show violent and antisocial behavior in the future.

On the contrary, in 2010, a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health highlighted that children of mothers who drink one or two glasses of alcoholic drinks per week or per occasion during pregnancy showed no increased risk of behavioral or cognitive problems till age 5.

Per Dr. Ann Hogan, former president, IMO, “Women have been getting mixed messages about drinking during pregnancy, doing this test will give doctors an opportunity to stage an intervention. It will tell the true incidence of what is going on.”

FASD prevalence in Ireland

The study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada ranked Ireland as one of the top five (out of 180) countries with the highest prevalence rates of FAS, where it was recorded 89.7 per 10,000 people — the third highest in the world. Globally, the prevalence of FAS among the general population was estimated to be 14.6 per 10,000 people.

Although it has been established that alcohol can harm any organ or impair any system in the evolving fetus, primarily the brain, the exact reasons of what makes a fetus vulnerable are still being studied. According to Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no safe amount or time of alcohol use, including beer and wine during pregnancy is known. Until more studies are conducted, it is in the best interest to avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy – no matter the type of drink.

Keep your baby safe

Below are the tips to help you stop drinking alcohol:

  • Think twice before taking an alcoholic drink in your hand. You certainly don’t want to inflict pain on your child. Go for a fruity drink or water instead.
  • Stay away from situations or places more vulnerable to drinks, like parties or bars.
  • Get free of all the alcohol in your home.
  • Tell your loved ones and friends that you’re not drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Ask them to help and support you.

It is important that women be made aware of alcoholism and its potential harms. Furthermore, clinicians also need to advise women who want to become mothers to quit alcohol the moment they make this decision.

Recovery from alcohol addiction

Issues like FASD can be completely avoided if a woman restricts herself from consuming alcohol during pregnancy. If you are addicted to alcohol or are worried about a loved one abusing alcohol, you should seek professional help from a trusted alcohol addiction center at the earliest.

All you need to do is reach out to the 24/7 Alcohol Abuse Helpline and a representative will help you in locating one of the finest alcohol abuse treatment centers near you. You can chat online or call at our 24/7 helpline 866-480-6873 for more information on the best treatment centers for alcohol addiction.