In the United Kingdom, new data reveals that hundreds of children were admitted to the hospital last year after being born brain damaged following exposure to alcohol in the womb. According to the Daily Mail, 272 babies were left disabled because of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in England over the past 12 months. However, it is likely that this number is much higher because researchers at the World Health Organization have found that at least one in 100 babies born in the UK could suffer from the syndrome.
In the United States, the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS), reports that alcohol use during pregnancy is the leading known cause of developmental disability and birth defects. Additionally, the Institute of Medicine says that of all the substances of abuse (including cocaine, heroine, and marijuana), alcohol produces by far the most serious neurobehavioral effects to the unborn baby.
Elizabeth Mitchell, from NOFAS, said, “Children born with the syndrome don’t get better. They are brain damaged. It is an enormous problem and one that is terribly sad and vastly under-diagnosed.” Additional medical issues related to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome include cerebral palsy, heart liver and kidney problems, epilepsy and vision loss. Tragically, some of these children suffer from severe neurological effects and will never be able to live normal lives.
For example, 15-year-old Niamh Brown was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and needs help getting dressed, has no sense of danger, and will never be able to live independently. When she was three-years-old, she was adopted but her parents immediately noticed something was wrong. She struggled with school, had difficulty paying attention and even holding a pencil during class. Then, when she was five, she was diagnosed with FAS from her birth mother’s drinking.