Oxford trust publishes alcohol-related foetus disorder guidelines

Pregnant woman
Image caption The Department of Health said pregnant women should avoid alcohol altogether

A charity has published recommendations for medical staff to tackle a foetal disorder caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

The Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Trust, based in Oxford, has called for alcohol-tests to be given to pregnant women by midwives.

A Royal College Of Midwives spokeswoman said it "would question any attempts to place the midwife in a policing role".

FASD conditions include permanent brain damage and behavioural difficulties.


The FASD Trust published the report with the help of 70 medical specialists.

The report was led by Dr Raja Mukherjee, who said FASD was still "under-diagnosed" and "many of those affected grow up unaware of their condition".

As well as alcohol testing, the proposed guidelines also call for clearer information for mothers-to-be to raise awareness of FASD.

The report states that a range of medical professionals, including midwives, need to be further educated in recognising FASD symptoms and not misdiagnosing the condition.

Janet Fyle from the Royal College of Midwives said: "It is more appropriate that midwives engage with women in a non-judgmental way to discuss and explain the issues around alcohol and problem alcohol consumption."

Pregnant women with an alcohol-dependency are at a greater risk of their foetuses developing the disorder.

According to the FASD Trust, the effects of the condition can be physical - including particular facial characteristics - but also mental or behavioural, such as "anxiety, social communication difficulties, poor attention and even criminal behaviour".

A Department of Health spokesman said, since 2007, advice had been that women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant should avoid alcohol.

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