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MP steps up efforts to warn of harm of drinking during pregnancy

Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson is furthering his efforts to help protect babies from the effects of excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

The MP, who is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), helped launch the FASD strand of The 70/30 Campaign, which aims for a 70 per cent reduction in levels of child maltreatment by the year 2030.

The 70/30 Campaign is working with healthcare providers to help educate and inform the public on a range of issues, including the risks of drinking alcohol in pregnancy.

Mr Esterson said: “Research suggests that more than 7,000 babies are born every year in the UK with FASD which is caused by excessive consumption of alcohol during pregnancy.

“The 70/30 Campaign supports healthcare professionals to inform the public about the risks. There is no safe proven amount of alcohol that a woman can drink in pregnancy. The only absolutely safe limit is no alcohol at all, and I was delighted when pressure from our APPG group helped lead to a change in the Department of Health guidelines recently.”

It is thought that as many as 70 per cent of children needing adoptive families have drug or alcohol misuse in their background.

The FASD Trust reports that alcohol produces the most serious neuro-behavioural effects to the foetus of any drug. Prenatal exposure is caused by alcohol crossing the placenta and within minutes the level of alcohol in the foetus’ blood reaches maternal blood alcohol levels, which can cause any type of physical malformation and learning and behavioural challenges.

It costs an estimated £2.9 million to raise a child with FASD across their lifespan and better support and information for women is key to reducing the risk of this harm.

Children with FASD often have problems at school, behavioural challenges, difficulties sustaining friendships and sensory impairments. Mr Esterson added: “FASD is preventable and when you consider the challenges that young people with FASD face, then we need to consider how we as a society can do more to prevent other children having to face a life filled with these difficult challenges. That is why I was so pleased to welcome The 70/30 Campaign to Parliament to launch this part of their operation.”

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