MidCentral DHB is reminding women, partners, friends and whānau of the harmful impact that alcohol can have on unborn babies during pregnancy.

September, the ninth month of the year, is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder awareness month.

Martin Macmaster, Health Promoter at MidCentral DHB’s Public Health Service, said babies exposed to alcohol before birth could encounter a range of problems, such as low birth weight, heart defects and behavioural and intellectual disabilities.

About 1800 births in New Zealand are affected by alcohol each year, Macmaster said.

“Because alcohol passes freely through the placenta, it is at the same concentration as the mother’s blood, but the fetus cannot process alcohol in the same way.

“A safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy has not been established, nor any safe time to drink while pregnant.”

Twenty three per cent of woman reported drinking during their first trimester and 13 per cent continued drinking after the first three months.

“All of us – partners, whānau, friends and health professionals – can support women to be alcohol-free during pregnancy to give babies their best shot at healthy, happy lives.

“We can discourage alcohol at home or events – join in going dry and ensure there are non-alcoholic alternatives and no pressure to drink.

“Alcohol is one drink a baby doesn’t need and we all want babies to be the best they can be.”

If you require help to stop drinking, speak to your midwife or doctor, or contact the Alcohol Drug Helpline (0800 787 797, alcoholdrughelp.org.nz or free text 8681).

For more information go to alcohol.org.nz.

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