Drinking levels among pregnant women to be analysed

The council will be looking in depth at the issue over the coming months.
The council will be looking in depth at the issue over the coming months.

Steps to discourage women from drinking during their pregnancies will be considered by public health officials in Wakefield.

It comes amid concerns there are growing numbers of children across the UK being born with foetal alcohol syndrome, also known as foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

Women are advised not to drink during pregnancy, because of the damage it can cause to their unborn children.

Women are advised not to drink during pregnancy, because of the damage it can cause to their unborn children.

The condition, which affects those who've been exposed to alcohol in the womb, can lead to a variety of health problems, including issues with concentration and attention, as well as potentially impaired eyesight and hearing.

Councillor David Jones, who chairs Wakefield's children and young people scrutiny committee, said councillors would be looking at the problem and its impact on sufferers.

He said he hoped the issue could be tackled in a similar way to smoking in pregnancy, following a huge cut in the numbers of pregnant women using cigarettes in Wakefield.

Speaking at a meeting on Monday, Coun Jones said: "Foetal alcohol syndrome is an issue I keep picking up on locally.

"It is a barrier to children and their ability to develop.

"Last year this authority and its public health team was very strong on, and did a fantastic job in discouraging expectant mothers from smoking during their pregnancy.

"The work in that area had a major impact.

"But now with foetal alcohol syndrome, we need to see a cut down in drinking as well."

According to the FASD Network, a charity supporting families in Yorkshire and the north east, around one per cent of UK babies are born with the condition every year.

However, studies published last year suggested that between six and 17 per cent of youngsters are now showing signs of prenatal alcohol exposure.

On its website, the charity says that alcohol has a bigger and more serious impact on a foetus than exposure to cannabis, cocaine or heroin.

It adds that: "Often the condition goes undiagnosed or is diagnosed for example as autism or ADHD."

Local Democracy Reporting Service