Pregnant women in Britain among worst in the world for drinking

Call to address issue of drinking during pregrancy. Picture; contributed
Call to address issue of drinking during pregrancy. Picture; contributed
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Britain is among the top five countries worldwide for mothers drinking during pregnancy, according to new research.

The findings should cause concern, as the researchers have warned of the huge impact alcohol can have on babies’ health, and recommend abstaining from booze.

Globally, nearly 10 per cent of expectant mums drink alcohol, a figure which varies widely in different countries - with some as high as 45 per cent.

Scientists said it can cause fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) in children - which can include mental, behaviour and learning problems, as well as physical disabilities.

An estimated one in 67 women who drink during pregnancy will have a baby with the syndrome, they said.

There is an urgent need for more effective prevention strategies to target alcohol use during pregnancy, the researchers concluded.

Worldwide, an estimated 119,000 children are born with the syndrome each year, according to the study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Europe had a higher prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome - 2.6 per cent - than the global average.

The five countries with the highest rates were all in Europe - Russia, the UK, Denmark, Belarus and Ireland.

The lowest levels of drinking and the syndrome were found in the Eastern Mediterranean and South East Asia regions, as there are high rates of alcohol abstinence in these regions. Study leader Svetlana Popova said: “The safest thing to do is to completely abstain from alcohol during the entire pregnancy.”