Drinking During Pregnancy Could Become a Criminal Offence

In a landmark case, the Court of Appeal is expected to pave the way for criminalisation of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

The case will decide if a child born with serious disabilities caused by her mother’s drinking during pregnancy, should receive compensation.

Lawyers pursuing compensation claim on behalf of child, now seven, argued that she was entitled to payments from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. The little girl was born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which can cause retarded growth, facial abnormalities and intellectual impairment.

According to the statistics, the FAS has been diagnosed 252 times in England in 2012 to 2013 and the number of cases have tripled over a period of 16 years. The Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is responsible for a number of behavioural impairments, which are hard to diagnose.

Earlier on, during the hearing of a similar case, the Upper Tribunal of the Administrative Appeals gave a ruling that child was born with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder as a “direct result” of her mother’s drinking.

The Department of Health advises that alcohol is to be avoided in pregnancy, while the independent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence advises women to avoid alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy because of the risk of a miscarriage.

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