Press release

HSE urges alcohol-free pregnancy on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day

Published: 9 September 2023

Updated: 31 January 2024


Everybody should be supported to have an alcohol-free pregnancy

Today (Saturday, 9th of September), is International Awareness day for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and the HSE is taking the opportunity to highlight the importance of supporting women to have an alcohol-free pregnancy.

FASD is a group of disorders caused by prenatal alcohol exposure and is associated with a range of lifelong physical, mental, educational, social, and behavioural difficulties. Prenatal alcohol exposure is therefore the leading preventable cause of neurodevelopmental disorder.

Alcohol at any stage of pregnancy, even small amounts, may affect a baby’s development and can have lifelong effects such as FASD.

Professor Maeve Eogan, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Rotunda Hospital says: 

“It is really important that we support women to have an alcohol-free pregnancy, and that the health service provides people with consistent advice about alcohol use in pregnancy. While FASD is entirely preventable, if alcohol is avoided in pregnancy, we need to acknowledge that some women will need additional supports to abstain, and they should be supported to access these.”

Exactly how many people in Ireland are living with this condition is unknown but it is estimated that up to 600 babies with FASD are born each year. The predicted prevalence of FASD in Ireland is the third highest in the world and therefore, the message is that no amount of alcohol at any stage during pregnancy is safe for your baby.

The HSE provides some tips for not drinking during pregnancy:

It can be hard for some people to give up alcohol for the 9 months of their pregnancy.

You may not want people to know about your pregnancy in the early stages and may feel under pressure drink alcohol. You may also not realise you are pregnant for a few weeks, but you can reduce your baby’s risk of FASD by stopping drinking as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed.

Some tips to help you stop drinking alcohol during pregnancy include:

  • Planning alcohol-free activities
  • Planning ahead and avoiding triggers (people and places) which encourage drinking
  • Asking partners, friends and family to support you
  • Finding new routines that don’t include alcohol
  • Getting support from your GP, midwife and obstetrician.

More information and advice on not drinking alcohol during pregnancy is available on HSE.ie

hse.ie/pregnancy-birth/keeping-well/food-drink/alcohol/


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