Doctor warns expectant Irish mums that they must ban the booze for baby

NewsBy Lynne Kelleher
Dr Irwin Gill is warning mums-to-be about alcohol
Dr Irwin Gill is warning mums-to-be about alcohol

Hundreds of Irish children born every year are believed to be silently living with conditions caused by their mother’s drinking while they were in the womb.

Irish mothers have been warned that no amount of alcohol is safe at any stage of pregnancy by a doctor carrying out research into the wide range of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Fetal alcohol syndrome – which is characterised by distinctive facial features, growth restriction and learning difficulties – is the mostly easily identified condition triggered by drinking, but there is no register of diagnosed children in Ireland.

Recent research suggests that up to eight out of 10 Irish women drink alcohol at some point during pregnancy.

Dr Irwin Gill, Specialist Registrar in Paediatrics at the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar, said: “There is no time during the pregnancy at which the foetus is safe from the effects of alcohol and there is no amount of alcohol that has ever been proved to be safe during pregnancy.

“The only responsible thing to do is to abstain completely.

“There are a lot of studies which suggest that as many as one per cent of the population could have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which is an enormous number of people.  

“Doctors are not good at asking mums and dads about their alcohol intake when they were pregnancy because nobody wants to blame parents for this.           

Dr. Gill now wants paediatricians to record cases of children who they believe were exposed to alcohol while in the womb to gauge the true extent of the problem in Ireland.