Pregnant Women Who Drink Alcohol May Face Criminal Charges in UK
By Reissa Su | February 25, 2014 6:29 PM EST
Pregnant women who drink alcohol may face criminal charges, following a landmark test case. The Court of Appeals in the UK will hear the case of a six-year-old girl who was treated as a crime victim because she has brain damage after she was exposed to alcohol while inside her mother's womb. According to reports, the mother was aware of what alcohol can do to her child. Advocates of a new law to make drinking alcohol while pregnant a crime will be one step closer to their goal.
A customer samples a glass of wine at Oinoscent wine bar in central Athens October 30, 2013.
Based on figures released from the Department of Health, one in 100 babies is born with disorders related to alcohol. In the past three years, a 50 per cent increase in babies with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) has been observed, while 313 babies suffering damage from alcohol exposure between 2012 and 2013 were born.
Dr Raja Mukherke, a consultant psychiatrist, warned that pregnant women don't have to be alcoholics to put their unborn child at risk. He said it is better for expecting mothers to avoid drinking alcohol.
Mr Mukherjee said for pregnant women who have drunk a bit, it doesn't mean they've harmed their child. However, the best way to guarantee the baby's safety in the womb is to eliminate alcohol.
Sue Brett, the adoptive mother of Glenn who has FAS, said women should be aware of the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant. Her adoptive son's biological mother had drunk excessively which caused Glenn to have developed physical disabilities that affected his vision and movement. Due to his exposure to alcohol in the womb, he has a mental age of a four-year-old child even if he is 15 years of age.
Susan Fleisher, founder of the organisation NOFAS-UK which promotes the effects of alcohol during pregnancy, has agreed that something more should be done to reduce the number of children suffering from disabilities. However, she doesn't believe in prosecuting pregnant women.
Ms Fleisher said women should not be prosecuted for something they are not aware of. She also wants to be fair to alcoholics who should be receiving support and not persecution.
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