Mums-to-be told 'no safe level of drink'
DUBLIN'S three maternity hospitals are to back an information campaign telling women there is no 'safe' level of alcohol to consume while pregnant.
Medics now regard alcohol consumption during pregnancy as a significant factor on the health of a newborn, but a large proportion of women continue to drink while expecting the birth of their child.
Every year, the situation leads to an average of 354 Irish babies in Ireland being diagnosed with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Earlier this month, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth, attempted to press home the reality of drinking while pregnant by launching an information leaflet specifically aimed at mothers-to-be.
The leaflet warned that consuming any type of alcoholic drink during pregnancy can potentially lead to a "lethal cocktail" that can impact on developmental, behavioural and learning difficulties.
The move, put forward by a health information group in Louth, has already received a positive reaction at the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.
Now, experts at Dublin's three maternity hospitals -- the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, the Coombe Hospital and the Rotunda -- are considering putting in place a similar leaflet campaign.
At the launch of the Drogheda leaflet earlier this month, Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness complained that the Government and drinks industry were not doing enough to highlight the problem.
She said health warnings on alcoholic beverages should be introduced immediately and linked to a national public awareness campaign about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
Ms McGuinness stressed there is no 'safe' amount of alcohol which a pregnant woman can consume without putting her baby at risk.
"The evidence is clear -- alcohol in pregnancy is a lethal cocktail for the unborn child and can lead to developmental, behavioural and learning difficulties later in life.
"Yet, despite a commitment from the drinks industry to place health warnings on alcohol containers, no such warnings are in place," she said
"Alcohol goes directly to the developing baby and is more toxic to the foetus than nicotine or any other so-called recreational drugs. Yet GPs are more likely to ask mums-to-be about smoking, than their drinking habits," she added.