Monday 9 September is Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day
04 September 2019

FASD is an entirely preventable condition that the World Health Organisation reports affects 1 in 100 babies.

Symptoms of FASD can be physical as well as mental and can include damage to the brain, kidneys and limbs as well as low set ears and a flat philtrum. Children with FASD can also demonstrate:

  •  Risky behaviour and not learning from mistakes
  • Low level behaviour issues at school

This can lead to children being misdiagnosed as having autism and Asperger’s syndrome.

As part of FASD Awareness Day some of our midwives will be attending a drop in session on Monday at Tameside Wellbeing Corner, at Ashton Market Hall, for an informal chat about why there’s no proven safe alcohol level for a pregnant woman. Between 12 noon and 2pm there will also be an opportunity to try a free zero-alcohol cocktail, so why not pop along and find out more!

We have been pioneering in offering advice and guidance to pregnant women through a programme called the MAMA Pathway. The MAMA Pathway is a screening pathway the Trust launched in 2016.  From this work it became apparent that people don’t know what a unit of alcohol is, let alone how much is safe to have during pregnancy.

Mags Deakin, our Named Midwife for Safeguarding Children, explains, “We did focus work with families around what their alcohol habits were, asking them to pour out what they thought was a unit, this was often closer to six units than one!  There was still a message around low level drinking during pregnancy being ok, but we could see from our focus work that perceptions of low levels was completely wrong.

“Pregnancy is a unique time in someone’s life so it is a golden opportunity for people to make changes in their lives, for the better, to improve their health.  The majority of parents want to do the right thing.  They do tend to be quite honest about behaviours in pregnancy that could impact the child, so we are able to advise them.  It is our role to give them the right information so that they can make an informed decision about how they want to see out their pregnancy.”

Following the launch, the pathway has demonstrated that 86% of pregnant women changed their behaviour regarding alcohol.  This data has been shared across GM and the pathway is now been rolled out across the Pennine footprint with a view to being replicated across GM.

It costs very little to run the pathway but the health implications are massive. The pathway has been the catalyst for the huge awareness raising #drymester campaign which has received national coverage.