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To be disappointed in hearing that many UK woman drink during pregnancy [shock]

(1004 Posts)
Leati Wed 18-Jul-07 08:16:58

Yesterday, I was on a thread when some of the women started questioning about US policy on drinking alcohol during pregnancies. One of the women had heard that if you have a glass of wine, you could be arrested. I assured her that wasn't true but there was chance that if you were visibly pregnant that the restaurant or bar might exercise their right to refuse service. And if a pediatrician became suspicious of drug or alcohol abuse, they could have the baby’s blood tested at birth. If the baby is found to have these in their blood, the child will be taken away. Another woman pitched that she found it disturbing that restaurants had signs warning pregnant women.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. These women seemed to believe it was actually okay to drink during their pregnancies. Hadn't they heard of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. So today, I did a little research and was shocked to learn that it is a big problem in the UK and that there is little education about it there.

Women who are angry over mothers choosing the bottle over nursing are damaging their children by drinking alcohol. This is not minor damage, in some case it is equivalent to severe mental retardation and in others it less obvious cognitive problems. Overall nearly 10% of babies born in the UK are suffering from some sort of cognitive problems directly related to alcohol exposure in the womb.

What broke my heart the most is that I have been on this site and I know that the mothers on this site care so much for their children. That while I may not always agree with everything said and our perspectives are not always the same, that we share a common love for our children. So I felt compelled to start this thread and share the information. I hope that you will share it, with your loved ones and it may spread.

I have attached some sites so you can research this yourself. These sites are both from the UK and the US. mfas_pregnancy_drinking_learningdifficulties.shtml ry/

Leati Wed 18-Jul-07 08:18:32

Problem: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a pattern of mental and physical defects which develops in some unborn babies when the mother drinks too much alcohol during pregnancy. A baby born with FAS may be seriously handicapped and require a lifetime of special care. Some babies with alcohol-related birth defects, including smaller body size, lower birth weight, and other impairments, do not have all of the classic FAS symptoms. These symptoms are sometimes referred to as Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). Researchers do not all agree on the precise distinctions between FAS and FAE cases.
Cause of the Problem: Alcohol in a pregnant woman's bloodstream circulates to the fetus by crossing the placenta. There, the alcohol interferes with the ability of the fetus to receive sufficient oxygen and nourishment for normal cell development in the brain and other body organs.

Possible FAS Symptoms:

Growth deficiencies: small body size and weight, slower than normal development and failure to catch up.
Skeletal deformities: deformed ribs and sternum; curved spine; hip dislocations; bent, fused, webbed, or missing fingers or toes; limited movement of joints; small head.
Facial abnormalities: small eye openings; skin webbing between eyes and base of nose; drooping eyelids; nearsightedness; failure of eyes to move in same direction; short upturned nose; sunken nasal bridge; flat or absent groove between nose and upper lip; thin upper lip; opening in roof of mouth; small jaw; low-set or poorly formed ears.
Organ deformities: heart defects; heart murmurs; genital malformations; kidney and urinary defects.
Central nervous system handicaps: small brain; faulty arrangement of brain cells and connective tissue; mental retardation -- usually mild to moderate but occasionally severe; learning disabilities; short attention span; irritability in infancy; hyperactivity in childhood; poor body, hand, and finger coordination.
Size of the Problem: The incidence (number of new cases each year) of FAS and FAE are significantly under-reported. Therefore, projections are usually based on estimates of their occurrence per 1,000 live births. Recent studies by researchers Ernest Abel and Robert Sokol suggest that the incidence of FAS can conservatively be estimated at 0.33 cases per 1,000 live births. Missouri recorded 78,468 live births in 1991 and 76,005 in 1992, which would yield at least 25 new cases of FAS per year. The incidence of FAE is generally regarded to be several times the magnitude of FAS cases, perhaps in the hundreds in Missouri.
Recommendations: Studies suggest that drinking a large amount of alcohol at any one time may be more dangerous to the fetus than drinking small amounts more frequently. The fetus is most vulnerable to various types of injuries depending on the stage of development in which alcohol is encountered. A safe amount of drinking during pregnancy has not been determined, and all major authorities agree that women should not drink at all during pregnancy. Unfortunately, women sometimes wait until a pregnancy is confirmed before they stop drinking. By then, the embryo/fetus has gone through several weeks of critical development, a period during which exposure to alcohol can be very damaging. Therefore, the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse urges women who are pregnant or anticipating a pregnancy to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages.

TheBlonde Wed 18-Jul-07 08:20:44

I don't see why you should find it shocking

Until May this year UK gov advice said that one to two units such as a couple of glasses of wine per week is acceptable.

Leati Wed 18-Jul-07 08:20:46

Leati Wed 18-Jul-07 08:22:40


It saddens me deeply. What suprised be was that many mothers seem to feel it is safe. They are unaware of the danger for them and thier children.

elesbells Wed 18-Jul-07 08:22:48

morning Leati. i think the trouble in the uk is the conflicting information that is given to pg women. whilst i think everyone agrees that excessive drinking is not good, some reports over time have suggested that one or two units of red wine are actually beneficial for them. personally i dont drink at all when pg but i think the advice is sketchy if not a little confusing.

alicet Wed 18-Jul-07 08:24:22

This sort of scaremongering makes me really really angry. there is enough guilt when you're pregnant without adding this.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a very real problem don't get me wrong. But its a problem for women who drink to EXCESS not who enjoy the occasional glass of wine.

The current DOH guidelines are also scaremongering and not based on any evidence. Indeed shortly after publication they admitted that they had only made them to encourage women to drink less, not none.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends no more than 8 units a week and no more than 2 at once. This is a group of doctors who specialise in women's health and childbirth.

If you personally believe that you wouldn't drink in pregnancy I would 100% respect that but what I can't and won't respect is trying to ram your views down other women's throats based on no evidence.

I am 6 months pregnant and I enjoy an occasional glass of wine. My baby will be fine. And if heaven forbid he's not it won't be because of this and I won't feel guilty.

fishie Wed 18-Jul-07 08:24:29

leati of course it is not ok to drink heavily or regularly during pregnancy. but to suggest that a bartender is to be encouraged to deny an adult a glass of wine because they are 'visibly pregnant' makes me absolutely furious. this is the thin end of the wedge eroding women's rights over their unborn child and it is yet another stick to beat pregnant women with.

ladylush Wed 18-Jul-07 08:24:42

Furthermore, there is no new research suggesting the previous advice is unsafe. Many health profs still say one to two units once or twice a week is ok. The reason why the gvmt changed the guidelines to zero alcohol is because they believed that some women can not accurately gauge what a unit is, hence were drinking too much.

hoolagirl Wed 18-Jul-07 08:25:15

My DP works with mentally disabled adults who live in full time residential care, a few of these had FAS and believe me, if you seen the effect it had on them you wouldn't touch a drop .

I think that to be fair, people did not know (years ago) the effect that alcohol would have and even until recently as TheBlonde points out, it was deemed ok to have a small amount.

juuule Wed 18-Jul-07 08:25:21

Hear, Hear, Alicet. Well said.

ladylush Wed 18-Jul-07 08:26:05

Yes good post fishie

fishie Wed 18-Jul-07 08:26:28

indeed ladylush, their tiny pregnant brains have shrivelled so that they are unable to tell the difference between a glass of merlot and a bottle of vodka.

ladylush Wed 18-Jul-07 08:28:34

Well we are lesser mortals after all

elesbells Wed 18-Jul-07 08:28:52

pmsl at fishie

hoolagirl Wed 18-Jul-07 08:29:26

The thought of it all would have you reaching for the bottle!

ladylush Wed 18-Jul-07 08:30:05

I drink during pg. One or two units a week. Obviously I do not believe this amount of alcohol will damage a baby and there is no research that says it will.

Leati Wed 18-Jul-07 08:30:29

No, you see this is the common fallicy. An occasional glass of wine is not acceptable. Would you stick wine in your childs bottle? You share a blood supply with your child.

ladylush Wed 18-Jul-07 08:31:48

Not acceptable? Do you mean not safe? It is safe.

alicet Wed 18-Jul-07 08:33:43

Leati fine you have your view. Thats your choice and the choice of many other women while pregnant. And I have no problem wih that at all.

But you are well out of order to come on and lecture pregnant women in this way. Who do you think you are? We have the right to make our own choices too. If there was any evidence to support what you are saying I would happily stop but there isn't. Until then I will continue to have the occasional drink.

ejt1764 Wed 18-Jul-07 08:33:43

Advice given to pregnant women in the 60s & 70s (at least) was to drink a bottle of stout every day to keep up iron levels.

How come there's not a whole generation of us walking around with FAS?

Leati Wed 18-Jul-07 08:33:57

10% of babies born in the UK are suffering from sort of alcohol related cognitive problems. 23 of every 13000 babies born in the UK are mentally retarded because thier mother thought it was okay to drink. Another 123 babies out of those 13000 have cognitive problems directly linked to alcohol. The websites I have attached are there for the reading. They are UK websites. The BBC has an article about the problem. Maybe the problem has been watered down in country but it seriously exist.

fishie Wed 18-Jul-07 08:34:52


"The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says there is no evidence that a couple of units once or twice a week will do any harm to the baby"

i am sure you mean well and don't want to be rude, but i'd take their word over yours any day.

Katy44 Wed 18-Jul-07 08:34:59

But not on a couple of small glasses of wine a week surely??

VeniVidiVickiQV Wed 18-Jul-07 08:35:22

Sensible risk assessment is what is missing.

Without full facts, and only media hype, the personal POV's of Health professionals who may not have up to date information, it's hard for pg women to get a 'real' notion of the facts.

IMO, I wouldnt touch alcohol at all in pg, but then I rarely drink alcohol, and dont see what is enjoyable about most alcoholic drinks. I drink to quench a thirst you see.

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