by: Sue Dunlevy - National Health Reporter
From: News Limited Network
May 31, 2013 9:56PM
“It has been described as Australia's "invisible birth defect" and,
in the six months since a major report calling for pregnancy warning labels on
alcohol, 1300 children have been born with brain damage. The report says when a
pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol is passed directly to the foetus through the
placenta, where it can kill the growing baby's cells resulting in foetal alcohol
spectrum disorder (FASD).
Since a parliamentary committee into the disorder last year called for
pregnancy warnings on alcohol labels, support for parents and education of
doctors, around 30,000 women are believed to have drunk alcohol while pregnant.
The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, which wants all alcohol
bottles labelled to warn pregnant women of the risk of drinking, has accused
the government of being unwilling to demonstrate leadership.
Liberal MP Sharman
Stone, who was a member of the parliamentary committee into FASD, said many of
the measures to stop pregnant women drinking it recommended won't cost the
government a cent. ‘This is the number one cause of brain damage in newborns in
Australia that is not genetic and babies born with it face a lifetime of
hardship and distress,’ she said. Sixty per cent of women in Australia drink
while pregnant and one in five continue to drink after they know they are
The government has given the alcohol industry until December 2013 to
voluntarily apply labels warning women not to drink while pregnant. Mental
Health Minister Mark Butler says an independent evaluation will measure
progress on labelling between now and the end of the year before health
ministers decided whether to make it mandatory”.
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