Pregnancy drinking ban opposed by expert

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Pregant woman. Pic © Canwest News / Wikimedia Commons

Pregant woman. Pic © Canwest News / Wikimedia Commons

A Liverpool parenting expert has opposed the idea that drinking whilst pregnant should be criminalised as the Court of Appeal prepares to rule on the issue.

A council in the northwest is seeking compensation for a six-year-old girl who was found with growth problems directly caused by her mother’s alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The Court of Appeal will decide whether the mother committed a crime by drinking whilst she was pregnant at a later date.

Siobhan Freegard, founder of the UK’s most popular parenting website Liverpool-based Netmums, told JMU Journalism: “Heavy drinking in pregnancy is devastating for an unborn baby and can cause serious defects including foetal alcohol syndrome.”

“However, most mums-to-be who drink do it sensibly with even the NHS suggesting one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week is safe after the first trimester.”

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) which can be caused by a mother’s drinking whilst pregnant can cause growth, facial problems and intellectual impairments to their child. ITV stated FAS was diagnosed 252 times in England from 2012 to 2013.

The NHS says that women should refrain from alcohol during the first three months of pregnancy because of the risk of miscarriages and that for the remainder of term they should stick to one or two units of alcohol per week.

Freegard also said that criminalising it won’t improve the problem of drinking whilst pregnant, telling JMU Journalism: “Making drinking in pregnancy illegal won’t stop it so, rather than criminalising the women who are looking after the health of their unborn child and staying within safe limits.

“More money and resources need to be directed at the tiny minority of mums who persistently flout drinking guidelines and put their child at risk.”

About Amy Holdsworth, JMU Journalism