My baby’s too young to drink

Friday September 9, 2016

MPs Tim Loughton and Sir Peter Bottomley paid a special visit to Worthing Hospital today – Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) awareness day – to support a new campaign advising mums-to-be not to drink any alcohol.

My Baby’s Too Young To Drink highlights the growing incidence of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders and, in line with new government guidelines, urges women to stop drinking alcohol completely during pregnancy.

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The parliamentary representatives for Worthing and Shoreham met with midwives, public health alcohol specialists as well as new mums and commended the proactive approach Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust takes in relation to foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Tim Loughton MP, who sits on the all-parliamentary FASD group, said: “It’s really good to see the enormous amount of work going on at Worthing Hospital to make sure women get a consistent, concise and strong message – no alcohol, no risk.

“Worthing Hospital is a fantastic gem and we know that Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of the most outstanding trusts in the country but, within that, the Maternity department is also one of the few officially CQC-rated ‘outstanding’ departments nationwide and we know why – because they do such an amazing job.”

Sir Peter Bottomley MP praised the midwives’ dedication and commitment to continuous professional development, adding: “I would also like to pay tribute to Tim Loughton because his work on FASD has been important both in parliament and locally.

“This isn’t about lecturing people, it is helping families safeguard the welfare of their own babies and trying to make sure they develop in the best possible way.”

FASD is a collective term used to group a number of preventable birth defects and diagnoses that are related to babies being exposed to alcohol while in the womb. Common problems include vision impairment, heart defects, liver problems, hyperactivity and speech and language delays.

The World Health Organisation estimates it affects 1% of children and adults, which means that 7,000 babies born in England and Wales each year have FASD. The true figure, however, could be much higher as the condition often goes undiagnosed, or it can be misdiagnosed, for example as autism or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Senior Midwifery Manager for Public Health at Western Sussex Hospitals, Kelly Pierce, said: “We really welcome the FASD Trust’s new campaign. All our midwives already receive mandatory training and attend study days about the significant risks to babies if mums drink alcohol.

“Our proactive approach and strong partnership working with the county council’s Public Health team and other agencies like Change Grow Live was recognised by the Care Quality Commission, who rated our department as Outstanding and highlighted it as an area of excellence within in the trust.

Julia Brown, CEO of the FASD Trust, said: “We believe that every mother wants the best for her children and so this campaign is designed to women understand the harm that can result if they continue to consume alcohol throughout their pregnancy.”

The MPs were invited to put up one of the My Baby’s Too Young To Drink campaign posters, which are now being displayed in each of the trust’s hospitals in Worthing, Shoreham and Chichester, and in its Sexual Health Clinics across West Sussex.

If you would like further information about FASD, please visit www.fasdtrust.co.uk

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