Home > Women, alcohol, pregnancy and FASD.

Plant, Moira (2022) Women, alcohol, pregnancy and FASD. QNIS Blog,

External website: https://www.qnis.org.uk/blog/women-alcohol-pregnan...

The Scottish Government estimates that around 172,000 children, young people and adults are affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Prenatal exposure to alcohol carries with it a serious risk (but not a certainty) of the unborn child developing this lifelong, life-limiting neurodevelopmental condition. Preventing FASD and responding well to those affected (when prevention did not occur) have been the cornerstones of my work. For this reason, I was happy to accept the offer to become involved with the Healthier Pregnancies, Better Lives (HPBL) programme at the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) in 2021. I played a role in the survey of Scotland’s community nurses and midwives, including the four blogs sharing what was learned from the 219 community nurses and midwives who responded. I have also written a detailed QNIS/HPBL report on women, alcohol, pregnancy and FASD, which will be published online this summer (2022). These six blogs will showcase some of the highlights from that report.

Blog 1 focuses on ways to ask about a patient’s/client’s relationship with alcoholic drinks and how to measure the amount they consume. Having a discussion with any of reproductive age is useful but doing this at a time when pregnancy is not yet in the woman’s mind can feel more relaxed. It is important to provide spaces where women and their health professionals are able to ask questions and talk openly in advance of any potential pregnancy.... [19 July]

Blog 2 focuses on some of the factors explaining why a woman might drink during her pregnancy. It will also look at some of the things that help, or hinder, professionals in discussing any patient’s drinking history and habits... [22 July]

Blog 3 FASD across the lifespan: physical problems - FASD is a lifelong condition. Despite the name of this neurodevelopmental condition beginning with the word ‘Fetal’, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders never disappear. Children and young people cannot ‘grow out of it’... [1 August]

Blog 4 FASD across the lifespan: behavioural problems - the fourth blog in the series presenting key elements from Prof Plant’s forthcoming report. While the last blog looked at the physical problems experienced by people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, this blog explores some of the behavioural problems. People often notice the behavioural problems associated with FASD long before any consideration is given to the physical concerns or a diagnosis... [5 August]

Blog 5 Stigmatisation must be challenged - We all think we know what stigma is and have observed or experienced it. In my work, there are a multitude of stigmatising myths, such as:

  • women who drink heavily are ‘bad’ and have low moral standards
  • women who drink don’t care about their babies since they think only of themselves
  • only ‘certain kinds’ of women have babies affected by prenatal alcohol exposure
  • women who drink will be bad mothers... [16 august]

Blog 6 Supporting community nurses and midwives - So, what do health professionals want? More initial education, continuing professional development and other training around alcohol, preconception/interconception health, pregnancy and FASD would be great place to start... [23 August]

[Note: for Irish information on alcohol, drinks calculator etc. see the HSE Ask About Alcohol website]

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