Oxford trust publishes alcohol-related foetus disorder guidelines

Pregnant woman The Department of Health said pregnant women should avoid alcohol altogether

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A charity has published recommendations for medical staff to tackle a foetal disorder caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

The Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Trust, based in Oxford, has called for alcohol-tests to be given to pregnant women by midwives.

A Royal College Of Midwives spokeswoman said it "would question any attempts to place the midwife in a policing role".

FASD conditions include permanent brain damage and behavioural difficulties.

Alcohol-testing

The FASD Trust published the report with the help of 70 medical specialists.

The report was led by Dr Raja Mukherjee, who said FASD was still "under-diagnosed" and "many of those affected grow up unaware of their condition".

As well as alcohol testing, the proposed guidelines also call for clearer information for mothers-to-be to raise awareness of FASD.

The report states that a range of medical professionals, including midwives, need to be further educated in recognising FASD symptoms and not misdiagnosing the condition.

Janet Fyle from the Royal College of Midwives said: "It is more appropriate that midwives engage with women in a non-judgmental way to discuss and explain the issues around alcohol and problem alcohol consumption."

Pregnant women with an alcohol-dependency are at a greater risk of their foetuses developing the disorder.

According to the FASD Trust, the effects of the condition can be physical - including particular facial characteristics - but also mental or behavioural, such as "anxiety, social communication difficulties, poor attention and even criminal behaviour".

A Department of Health spokesman said, since 2007, advice had been that women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant should avoid alcohol.

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