Press Release

Minister Wallace Renews Advice Not To Drink Alcohol In Pregnancy

Ms Mary Wallace T. D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with special responsibility for Health Promotion and Food Safety, today (8 September, 2008) reminded women of the clear advice not to consume alcohol if pregnant or trying to conceive. The Minister is renewing the advice to coincide with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day which takes place on the 9th day of the 9th month each year (9th September).

“I know that expectant mothers want to do everything possible to protect their baby. Everyone is aware about the advice not to smoke but there is much less awareness about the advice not to consume alcohol during pregnancy. It is clearly in the child’s best interest for a pregnant woman not to drink alcohol during pregnancy”the Minister said.

Last year a report entitled “The Coombe Women’s Hospital Study of Alcohol, Smoking and Illicit Drug Use, 1988-2005” found that most pregnant women drink alcohol. The Study showed that one in 10 women reported drinking more than 6 units of alcohol per week in pregnancy and that this pattern was more pronounced in younger women.

The Minister called on everyone to heed the advice provided by the Chief Medical Officer who has stated that alcohol consumption by pregnant women in Ireland poses a risk to unborn babies.

“Given the harmful drinking patterns in Ireland and the propensity to “binge drink” there is a substantial risk of neurological damage to the foetus resulting in Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Alcohol offers no benefits to pregnancy outcomes”the Minister said.

A person having any concerns in relation to alcohol consumption in pregnancy should contact their General Practitioner or local maternity service provider.

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is the umbrella term used to describe the range of effects that can be caused by maternal alcohol exposure. Children identified as suffering from FASD show signs of behavioural, intellectual and physical difficulties including learning difficulties, poor language skills, poor memory skills and attention problems.