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Boozing pregnant mums give birth to brain damaged and disfigured babies, says new report

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alcomumPREGNANT mums who refuse to quit the booze are giving birth to brain-damaged babies who develop learning and social disorders.

Experts say, despite health warnings, one in five women continues to drink during pregnancy and hundreds of babies are born each year with undiagnosed brain impairment.

Research by Australia's Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education found drinking alcohol while pregnant could lead to Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is the most common preventable cause of intellectual impairment.

At the severe end of the spectrum, babies with FASD have distinct facial markers and brain abnormalities. At the other end they have behavioural and brain function problems including poor memory, language and social skills.

But it usually goes unreported, there is no funding to deal with its consequences and only 20 per cent of doctors can identify it when they see it.

Recent research showed almost half of all pregnant women drank before knowing they were pregnant and 19.5 per cent continued to drink alcohol once they became aware of their pregnancy, despite national health guidelines advising them not to.

University of Sydney Professor Elizabeth Elliott said most doctors couldn't identify FASD and many cases were misdiagnosed as ADHD or autism because they had similar symptoms.

Estimates suggest 200 children a year are born with alcohol damage.


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