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04/09/2007

Lunch meeting on FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) European Parliament - Strasbourg. 4 September 2007

To mark the International FASD Day (9 September) Eurocare organised, together with Dutch MEPs, Mr. Jules Maaten (ALDE) and Ms Dorette Corbey (PSE), a lunch meeting at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the 4th of September.

The aim of the meeting was to raise awareness among MEPs of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) as well as different policy options to curb its incidence

The speakers included:

  • Dr Kieran O'Malley, a Doctor and a Psychiatrist from Ireland who has worked with FASD patients for 17 years and has researched and published extensively on FASD. View presentation
  • Dr Nicolaas van der Lely, a paediatrician from the Netherlands who last year launched a multidisciplinary alcohol outpatient clinic for children with problems related to alcohol use.

The speakers alerted of the risks of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, which is the leading known cause of mental retardation and birth defects in the EU that affects about 1% of people in the EU27 (i.e. nearly 5 million people).

They described the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy (i.e. physical, mental, behavioural and or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications). They also pointed out that 80% of patients with FASD over 21 years are not able to live independently, and that 60% get into trouble with the law and that half of them end up confined in a mental institution.

The speakers reminded the participants that there are no safe levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy and called attention to the high percentages of pregnant women in Europe that drink alcohol compared to other parts of the world (i.e. 79% in Ireland, 77% in the UK, 68,4% in the EU ).

The policy recommendations from the speakers included warning labels on alcohol beverage containers coupled with general population health education and awareness as well as Medical /Nursing/Social Work University education on alcohol related problems.