MP Bill Esterson is supporting a campaign urging women to protect their babies by not drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
He was speaking during a visit to the maternity team at Ormskirk hospital to raise awareness of the issue on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) Day.
Mr Esterson is the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on FASD. He sponsored a Private Members’ Bill in Parliament last year calling for better labelling on containers carrying alcohol.
Although the Bill ran out of time – as is often the case with this type of proposed legislation – the Chief Medical Officer changed her advice to mums-to-be and women trying for a baby in January to abstain from drinking alcohol.
FASD is a condition caused when a child is exposed to alcohol in the womb, leaving a baby with a range of physical, behavioural and cognitive difficulties for the rest of their life.
The World Health Organisation estimates that FASD affects 1% of children or the equivalent of 7,000 babies born in England and Wales every year. In some areas the numbers could be significantly higher.
Mr Esterson, who is Labour MP for Sefton Central, said: “Thank you to Ormskirk hospital for hosting the FASD Awareness Day. The all-party FASD group has heard from health staff about the damage done to children who are exposed to alcohol in the womb.
“The My Baby’s Too Young to Drink campaign is a timely reminder of the dangers. Even small amounts of alcohol at the wrong time during pregnancy, including from very early on, can cause irreversible brain damage.
“FASD is a hidden problem and the scale of it is really unknown. That is why MPs have called on the Government to have a prevalence study so we can work out how many children are affected each year and just what the true level of risk is.
“Understanding the true nature of the problem is essential if we are to be able to reduce the damage done and support children who are affected and their families.”
Diane Kashrabi, Southport-based national link coordinator for the FASD Trust, said: “It was wonderful to see the excellent work done by the Maternity team in support of the FASD Trust.”
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