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Bill Esterson MP calls for urgent action on a ‘hidden epidemic’ in UK

Bill Esterson used an adjournment debate to call for action to educate professionals and the public about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. 'Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders' (FASD) are caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy, causing irreversible brain damage leading to emotional, behavioural and learning difficulties. Studies show a hidden epidemic in British society, with up to 17% of children affected.

Mr Esterson who has two adopted children who have the characteristics of FASD, highlighted the dangers of drinking earlier in pregnancy, which is particularly damaging to the baby as the liver has not matured to process alcohol. He has called for more to be done to educate the public that the safest approach when considering pregnancy is to give alcohol up.

Commenting, Bill Esterson said: ‘We need a sea change in our culture, which is so deep seated, in order to end the misunderstanding of alcohol during pregnancy. A baby’s liver matures later in pregnancy.

When mum drinks, so does the baby. Unfortunately, much of the damage is likely to be done early in pregnancy, maybe before the mother is aware she is pregnant. We must leave a legacy to the next generation that smoking and drinking during pregnancy are equally damaging. It is especially important that women do not drink in the very earliest stages of pregnancy as this is when some of the worst damage can be done.

That’s why awareness among the wider population is so important so everyone understands the risks for any women who is likely to conceive and the risks to their child.”

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