UK

Foetal alcohol syndrome child refused Supreme Court compensation bid

woman drinking wine Image copyright Thinkstock

A child born with foetal alcohol syndrome has been refused permission to take her case for criminal injuries compensation to the UK Supreme Court.

The seven-year-old girl, whose mother drank excessively while pregnant, was born with severe brain damage.

The Court of Appeal ruled in December that the girl, now in care, was not legally entitled to compensation.

Permission to appeal was refused because an arguable point of law was not raised, the Supreme Court said.

An application was made to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority on her behalf on the basis that the girl was the victim of crime because her mother had administered a noxious substance to her.

The case was originally brought by a council in north-west England, which cannot be named for legal reasons. The Court of Appeal rejected a decision of the First Tier Tribunal awarding her compensation.


Foetal alcohol syndrome

Heavy drinking during pregnancy can lead to foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) when alcohol passes across the placenta from the mother to the developing foetus.

The foetus cannot process alcohol effectively until the liver is fully developed and the high levels of alcohol can affect the development of organs and the brain.

Children with FAS are born with a range of disabilities, are often shorter than average and some have learning and behavioural difficulties.

People with the syndrome can have differences in their facial features such as a flat nose bridge, a small head and a thin upper lip.

It is thought that foetuses are most at risk during the first three months of pregnancy when organs are forming - but damage can occur at any time.


The NHS recommends that pregnant women should not drink at all - adding that those who choose to have a drink should have no more than two units of alcohol once or twice a week.

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