New research into the rates of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) has proven extremely concerning.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Paediatrics, revealed that Ireland is among the countries with the worst rates of pregnancy drinking resulting in harm to the child.
As part of the research, a team from the Canadian Institute of Mental Health Policy and Research analysed data from 24 global studies into FASD.
They found that the global average number of babies born with FASD as a result of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, stood at eight in every 1,000.
Ireland’s statistics stand at six times the average, at 48 in every 1,000, putting us within the top five in Europe. Also among the top five in Europe are Italy, with 45 in every 1,000; and Croatia, with 53.
The worst levels were identified in South Africa, where FASD affected 111 babies in every 1,000.
Furthermore, the research revealed that one in every 13 women who drink alcohol during pregnancy will have a child with FASD.
Experts advise mums-to-be to curb their drinking habits during pregnancy. This is because, just like food, the alcohol is passed to the foetus via the placenta. As the foetus’ system is not equipped to break down the alcohol like a fully developed adult, it can be seriously damaging to their cells.
Symptoms of FASD include physical abnormalities, stunted body weight or height, learning disabilities, speech and language delays, problems with vision and hearing, and more.
Previously, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention published guidelines stating that there is ‘no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant’.
Author of the latest study, Dr Svetlana Popova, expressed concern over the latest statistics. She now believes that information about the potentially harmful effects of drinking during pregnancy should form a standard part of sex education.