Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 17 - Health Service Research Projects [26377/11].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 17 - Health Service Research Projects [26377/11]. (21 Sep 2011)

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17. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 76 and 89 of 1 July 2009 regarding foetal alcohol syndrome, if the research project undertaken by the Health Service Executive and the Coombe Hospital, Dublin, regarding alcohol exposure during pregnancy has been completed; if so, the findings of same. [26377/11]

26.  Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Questions Nos 76 and 89 of 1 July 2009 regarding foetal alcohol syndrome, the conclusions and recommendations which resulted from the systematic review of prenatal outcomes following alcohol exposure; the action taken by him and the Health Service Executive as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26378/11]  

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 and 26 together. I wish to advise the Deputy that the prevalence study of alcohol exposure in pregnancy at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital has been completed.
Records on 61,241 women who booked for ante-natal care and delivered between 2000 and 2007 were examined as part of this study. The findings of this study were that 81% of women reported alcohol consumption during the peri-conceptual period; of these, 43,455 (71%) reported low alcohol intake (0-5 units per week), 6059(9.9%) moderate intake (6-20 units per week) and 114(0.2%) high intake (over 20 units per week).
There was one case of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome in each of these three categories of peri-conceptual drinkers, i.e. 1 of 43,455 in low intake drinkers, 1 of 6059 in moderate intake drinkers and 1 of 114 in high intake drinkers.
Factors associated with high intake included being less than 25 years, being single, being Irish, having an unplanned pregnancy, being a smoker or a user of illicit drugs. High alcohol consumption was associated with very pre-term birth. Adverse peri-natal outcomes were not increased in low or moderate drinkers compared to non-drinkers.
The Deputy may wish to know that as well as the above retrospective case note study a prospective study is underway to examine the incidence of foetal alcohol effects on a longitudinal basis.
A systematic review of perinatal outcomes following alcohol exposure was also carried out. A total of 42 qualifying studies were examined. Studies linking alcohol consumption with first trimester miscarriage were inconclusive but a dose-related increase in second trimester miscarriage has been reported. Studies have associated moderate to heavy consumption with pre-term birth and low birthweight. Results are sometimes inconsistent and the associations may not persist when socio-demographic confounders are taken into consideration. A number of studies have reported a relationship between alcohol intake in pregnancy and behavioural and cognitive deficits in childhood and adolescence.
Finally, the National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group was established in 2009. It is examining the development of policy to deal with a wide range of key issues relating to the supply, pricing, availability and marketing of alcohol, along with measures for the policy areas of prevention strategies, - including strategies to reduce alcohol intake in pregnancy - treatment, rehabilitation, alcohol and substance dependency, research and information. The report of the Steering Group is close to completion; I expect to receive proposals in the coming months and I will then brief my colleagues in Government on these.
Written Answers – Health Service Research Projects
Vol. 741 No. 4
Wednesday, 21 September 2011

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