Date PostedDecember 7, 2012

MPs call for foetal alcohol warning on drinks

Fetal alcohol warning on drinks

According to parliamentary committee all alcohol bottles should carry a health warning label for expectant mothers. Pregnant women should be encouraged not to drink at all. Although the popular belief is that a little occasional alcohol during pregnancy is fine, scientists are not sure what amount of alcohol is needed to cause harm to the baby, so abstinence is best.

It also recommended that labels warning of the risks of alcohol on pregnancy testing and ovulation kits.The committee recommended a national action plan to oversee research and develop strategies to tackle the problem of drinking while pregnant.

A post featured on has more on the committee’s recommendations:

Graham Perrett, chair of the Social Policy and Legal Affairs committee whose report into FASD was tabled today, said the disorders were hidden in damaged brains.

“It may masquerade as naughty behaviour, poor parenting, lack of discipline or simple mindedness,” Mr Perrett said. “It is none of these things.”

He said the condition was caused by exposure to alcohol in the womb.

“The consequences are expressed along a spectrum of disabilities including physical, cognitive, intellectual, learning, behavioural, social and executive functioning abnormalities and problems with communication, motor skills, attention and memory,” he said.

Mr Perrett that while the risk of a disorder increased with the amount of alcohol a pregnant woman drinks, it was not widely known that even small amounts, at critical times, could cause irrevocable damage to the fetus.

Liberal committee member Sharman Stone said there was a simple answer: “Just don’t drink for the nine months of your pregnancy.”

Dr Stone said too many doctors were failing to ask pregnant woman about their drinking habits.

She said there were also too many cases of young women binge-drinking, having unprotected sex and then continuing to drink without realising they were pregnant.

Dr Stone said the government was so proud of its tobacco labelling laws but had done nothing about alcohol.

The committee received expert opinion that the true incidence of the disorders in Australia was unknown.


Part of the challenge associated with alcohol is how to combat foetal alcohol syndrome because banning pregnant women from drinking takes away the fundamental rights of the mother. But mothers need to be educated about the intense problems linked to pregnant drinking.

Even women who have given birth but are in the process of breastfeeding, need to abstain from alcohol because it may be passed to the nursing baby because breast milk contains higher concentrations of water than blood into which alcohol can be absorbed therefore the alcohol in breast milk is more concentrated and the effects of this alcohol can be passed on to the feeding baby.

The effects of alcohol on the foetus are more than just immediate, there are long lasting effects which the child will suffer from later on in life. The effect of alcohol consumption can be seen in childhood years, right into adulthood. Some of the reported symptoms include heart defects, developmental problems, low birth weight, adult developmental delays, learning difficulties, behavioural problems and make them vulnerable to mental illness.

When you study with rsa online nsw you will know how to responsibly serve alcohol to expectant mothers.


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Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning, OH&S training, and web strategy firm based in Little Edward St. Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia. Urban E-Learning provides compliance related online , Distance and Face-to-Face training products in the construction, hospitality and heavy vehicle transport sectors, to name a few. Examples include the White Card Construction induction course and the RSA - Responsible Service of Alcohol course. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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