Shocking impact of booze on babies

Sydney Morning Herald July 18, 2010

Australia has fallen behind in recognising and diagnosing ”completely preventable” foetal alcohol syndrome and wider spectrum disorders, researchers warn. There are a growing number of intervention treatments for children born with the illnesses and researchers advocate a renewed effort to help pregnant women who suffer chronic alcohol dependence.

Foetal alcohol syndrome causes serious primary structural brain damage, sometimes shown at birth in facial deformities such as a small head, flat mid-face, underdeveloped jaw and a short nose with a low bridge, but just as often in learning and behavioural problems. More broadly, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder occurs in up to 1 per cent of live births and includes foetal alcohol syndrome and other central nervous system birth defects attributable to alcohol consumption by the mother. US research suggests sufferers are disproportionately likely to face the juvenile justice system.