29 April 2005

Irish Health.com

Fetal alcohol warning

[Posted: Fri 29/04/2005]

The Irish Government needs to increase its efforts in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, according to a researcher in the field.

Prof Susan Ryan, Fulbright Scholar at TCD, stated that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the biggest cause of non-genetic intellectual disability in the western world and the only one that is 100% preventable.

Statistics show that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome occurs in three to six of every 1,000 live births, according to research conducted by the Center for Disease Control in the USA.

Applying this research to Ireland, there could be 177 to 354 babies born each year with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

"These figures could be as high as 1,770 if all the alcohol related neurological disorders were included. The effects of maternal consumption of alcohol on the baby can include physical abnormalities, behavioural and learning disabilities. Prevention efforts by society and the Government would change these statistics", said Prof Ryan.

"There is a critical need for society in Ireland to address the growing culture of binge drinking among young women," stressed Prof. Ryan.

"Binge drinking can cause risks to the unborn child. No amount of alcohol has been proven safe during pregnancy. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The children in Ireland affected by alcohol need services and supports".

Prof Ryan was speaking on the occasion of Dr Kieran O'Malley of the University of Washington, Seattle giving a presentation in Trinity. Dr O'Malley is a child and adolescent psychiatrist from Belfast.

He has worked with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder patients for 15 years in Canada and the USA. His presentation was organised by the National Institute for the Study of Learning Difficulties, TCD, in collaboration with FAS Ireland.

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