New iniative aims to eliminate alcohol consumption during pregnancy
A new project aimed at increasing awareness of the health benefits to pregnant mums and unborn children of ceasing alcohol consumption entirely during pregnancy has been taking place in the ante-natal clinic of Consultant Obstetrician Dr Nandini Ravikumar at Letterkenny General Hospital.
As part of the project, the hospital launched a ‘toolkit’ for health professionals: ‘Prescription for a Healthy Pregnancy’, today, Thursday April 3, which will be used by midwives in the ante-natal clinic. The overall objective of the project is to raise awareness with pregnant women of the harmful effects of alcohol on the unborn child and to promote a consistent message that no alcohol in pregnancy is best. This is in line with the advice of the Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health, i.e. “Given the harmful drinking patterns in Ireland and the propensity to binge drink, there is substantial risk of neurobiological damage to the fetus resulting in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Therefore it is in the child’s best interest for a pregnant woman not to drink alcohol during pregnancy¨” (reference http://www.dohc.ie/press/releases/2007/20070907.html)
The National Drinking Surveys (Ireland) 2006 and 2010 indicated that nearly half of women of child bearing age engage in hazardous drinking. A recent study in one of Ireland’s National Maternity Hospitals found that 63% of the 43,318 women surveyed said that they drank alcohol during pregnancy. A recent international study found that 80% of woman in Ireland drank at some point of their pregnancy (Kenny 2013).
According to Consultant Obstetrician Dr Nandini Ravikumar, “We are delighted to be the first ante-natal clinic in Ireland to introduce such a practice into the booking in clinic. All mums want the best for their baby. Information mums may receive on alcohol use in pregnancy from different sources can often be conflicting. We want to impart one clear consistent message to support a healthier pregnancy for both mum and baby. No alcohol is best in pregnancy and stopping alcohol use in pregnancy has huge benefits for both mum and baby We hope that through this initiative we will support mothers to have a healthier pregnancy. Pending positive evaluation this toolkit could be used on a larger scale by health professionals to support mums to have a healthier pregnancy.”
The launch took place at the conclusion of ‘Alcohol Awareness Week’, a national HSE initiative in conjunction with the Alcohol Forum, which runs between March 31 and April 3 2014.
The ‘Prescription for a Healthy Pregnancy Practice Change’ Initiative is a multi-disciplinary multi-agency response to maternal alcohol consumption between the HSE West Maternity Services,Donegal, the HSE Drug and Alcohol Service, Donegal, the Education and Training Board, The North West Regional Drugs Task Force and the Alcohol Forum.