Darling Downs mums drink while pregnant: shock stats

MOTHERS on the Darling Downs are being warned about the life-threatening dangers of drinking while pregnant.

Since the start of the 2013 financial year, there have been 28 cases of babies born with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders or neonatal abstinence syndrome (causing withdrawal symptoms) across hospitals in the region.

Darling Downs hospitals had 6177 babies born during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 financial years.

A Darling Downs hospital and health service spokesperson said it was not currently known what level of alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy.

Therefore, it was recommended women avoid drinking any amount of alcohol while pregnant.

It's a notion Health Minister Cameron Dick fully supports.

Mr Dick said every year; more children were born with FASD than with autism, spina bifida, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome combined.

"FASD is easily preventable, and I urge Queensland women not to consume alcohol before and during pregnancy in order to protect their babies," he said.

As part of the Warwick Hospital's maternity service, midwives make antenatal assessments during the course of a woman's pregnancy.

These assessments can be used to screen women for drug and alcohol misuse.

At these visits, expectant mothers are advised that no alcohol in pregnancy is the safest option, which is in line with the National Alcohol Guidelines.

A Darling Downs hospital and health service spokesperson said other health screenings are conducted during antenatal visits including weight and body mass index, dental hygiene, medical history, surgical history, pap smear information, family history, psychosocial and mental health.

"Babies affected by alcohol tend to have low birth weights," they said. "They may also have physical and behavioural problems at birth and throughout childhood."

Mr Dick said Queensland Health was committed to supporting families living with FASD, as demonstrated last year when Gold Coast Health established the first FASD Diagnostic Clinic in the state and only the second in Australia.

About 40 children have been diagnosed with FASD through the clinic.

"We also recently launched an alcohol harm reduction campaign and asked Queenslanders to think about their relationship with alcohol," he said.

For information on FASD visit http://www.nofasd.org.au

Alcohol side-effects

  •   Memory problems
  •   Difficulty storing and retrieving information
  •   Inconsistent performance
  •   Impulsivity and distractability
  •   Slower thinking
  •   Difficulty with abstract thinking
  •   Inability to understand consequences

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