More Babies Born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

The number of children being born with foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is rising, with an estimated 5 000 FAS babies born each year. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of foetal alcohol syndrome are up six-fold since the mid-1980s. Furthermore, about 50 000 babies each year have disabilities stemming from maternal use of alcohol during pregnancy. Children born with FAS suffer stunted growth and facial deformities, attention and behaviour problems, and, in some cases, mental retardation. Foetal alcohol syndrome is the leading known cause of mental retardation.

Experts point out that children never outgrow FAS. As a result, each afflicted child will cost $1.4 million over his or her lifetime in institutional and medical costs. Louise-Floyd, acting chief for the CDCs Foetal Alcohol Branch said waning education about FAS and increased publicity about the health advantages of certain types of alcohol has resulted in women viewing alcohol as more benign than other drugs. “They think, ‘If I’m not using heroin or cocaine like the people down the street, if I just using beer, that’s OK,” Mitchell says.

Source: Louise Floyd, Center for Disease Control Sept 2001

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