Do You Know That Pregnant Women Shouldn't Drink Alcohol?by Laura Driver
A quarter of adults aged between 18 and 25 are unaware that women should not drink alcohol during pregnancy, according to a survey of 2,000 Britons.
26 per cent admitted they did not know that official NHS guidance states that a woman, if pregnant, should avoid alcohol entirely.
Just 17 per cent of the young adults correctly identified alcohol exposure in utero as causing more long-term harm to a baby than other substances such as heroin.
Almost half (49 per cent) of 18-25 year-olds polled said they get information on alcohol in pregnancy from social media while four in ten discussed it with a teacher.
The research was carried out by the National Organisation for FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders). Sandra Butcher, chief executive of the British arm of the National Organisation on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS-UK), said: 'Information is power. It is deeply concerning that so few young people are aware of the dangers.'
Pregnant women should avoid alcohol or risk harming their child
Pregnant women shouldn't drink alcoholic drinks because the chemical can pass into their baby's body. The liver is one of the last organs to finish growing in the womb, so babies exposed to alcohol may not have any natural defences against its harms – in grown people the liver filters it to reduce damage.
Drinking during the first trimester can raise the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, or a low birth weight. Whereas drinking later in the pregnancy increases the chance of the baby being born with health problems.
Babies of mothers who drank regularly in pregnancy may develop a serious condition called foetal alcohol syndrome. This can cause physical deformities (notably the eyes can be set far apart, and a large forehead and thin upper lip can develop) as well as disability.
Babies with severe foetal alcohol syndrome may have learning difficulties, behaviour problems or even develop cerebral palsy. Around 6,000 to 7,000 babies are thought to be born in the UK every year with foetal alcohol syndrome, according to the charity Mencap.
Studies have shown that FASD is more prevalent than autism but it is widely misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. Health and social care lecturer Jo Buckard, an expert in FASD, said: 'There's been progress but no one should rest easy with these figures.
'If one-quarter of those in childbearing years hasn't got the message yet, that could lead to a massive risk of FASD. Add to that the fact that during this lockdown it's harder to get access to contraceptives and pregnancy tests, it's a perfect storm for a possible future upsurge in FASD.'