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More prenatal alcohol advice needed

Pregnant women are not receiving enough information from midwives and health professionals on the effects of alcohol consumption on their babies, a new research study has discovered.

Researchers from the University of Wollongong’s Centre for Health Initiatives (CHI) found that patient sensitivity was seen as a barrier for many midwives and health professionals when it came to recommending abstinence from alcohol to expectant mothers as they did not wish to offend patients about their lifestyle choices.

CHI Director Professor Sandra Jones said this lack of information was potentially dangerous for pregnant women and their children.

“It’s a real problem, because mothers are not adequately aware of the dangerous effects alcohol can have on their baby,” she said.

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is the most severe effect of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and has serious long-term effects on the developing foetus. The syndrome has become more prevalent in recent times due to the naivety of new mothers regarding the risks of alcohol consumption.

Jones said alcohol guidelines for pregnant and breast-feeding women should be widely communicated by professionals.

The research’s findings encourage midwives to be better equipped with information and to advise mothers about the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

“Given the clear evidence, it is obvious that there is a lack of awareness on the effects of alcohol on babies during pregnancy. The CHI research provides some recommendations which can benefit both midwives and mothers.” The CHI team’s findings have been published in the International Journal Midwifery.

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