February 14, 2012
Scandalous perpetuation of brain damage to children
Alcohol Healthwatch launched an on-line resource today to assist health professionals talk to their pregnant patients about alcohol.
The rate of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is about 1% in Western Countries, which would mean that about 600 babies are born each year in New Zealand with FASD. But NZ research of several years ago indicated that NZ’s rate could be 2-5 times higher than the average due to differences in drinking behaviour, so that up to 3000 innocent babies a year may be brain damaged in utero through the alcohol use of their mother.
“This is a scandalous state of affairs” said Professor Doug Sellman today.
“We continue to treat alcohol as if it was soft-drink with no proper warnings being given to the public about the fact it is a neurotoxic drug, which can cause brain damage when too high a dose is taken.”
“This is particularly the case when the dose is administered to unborn children by heavy drinking mothers.”
“The alcohol industry is opposed to warning the public about the known health effects of their product and an avalanche of white lies is propagated by the media and by advertising industries” added Professor Jennie Connor.
“More than $300,000 is being spent a day on marketing alcohol as a harmless but essential necessity for a good life.”
“The government is currently canvassing opinions about the nation’s vulnerable children through a Green Paper. There is not one reference in the paper to FASD and in fact not one reference in the paper to effective alcohol law reform being an important positive step to better protect NZ’s children.”
“Beginning with the reduction of FASD, better alcohol policy could reduce the harm and lost opportunities suffered by children who live in heavy drinking communities.”
Professor Jennie Connor
Head, Department of Department of Preventive and Social Medicine
University of Otago, Dunedin
Professor Doug Sellman
Director, National Addiction Centre
University of Otago, Christchurch
Alcohol Action NZ