Early legal talks for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome sufferers

By Blackwater Law

There have been some early legal discussions about possible Fetal Alcohol Syndrome compensation for children who have been born with and suffer from FAS.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can occur and affect a baby in the womb if the mother has consumed too much alcohol during her pregnancy.

When a baby is growing in the mothers womb is takes all its nutrients from the mother’s bloodstream. If alcohol has been consumed, this goes through the mothers’ bloodstream and passes directly into the baby’s bloodstream. Due to its toxic properties, the alcohol can harm and damage the baby’s development, including the brain, internal organs and the facial features of the unborn baby. However, this does not mean that every mother who drinks alcohol in their pregnancy will definitely have a child who is born with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders cover a broad range of conditions associated with the over-consumption of alcohol throughout a pregnancy. There are four conditions within this range:

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
  • Alcohol related birth defects (ARBDs)
  • Partial fetal alcohol syndrome (pFAS)
  • Alcohol related neuro-developmental disorder (ARND)

It is not always easy or straightforward to diagnose a child with FAS or one of the other related conditions as there is not specific test to pick it up. However, children born with FAS have a particular common group of features that they share. In comparison to a child without FAS, there are a variety of differences that are noticeable. For example, their head and eyes maybe smaller than usual, eyelids are often droopy, thinner lips than normal and the groove between the nose and lips is often flattened. Overall they may suffer from stunted growth and because the alcohol may have damaged the brain (this part of the baby continuously develops in the womb), they may also suffer from mental and behavioural problems. This may include, amongst others, hyperactivity, impulsive behaviour, poor attention span, speech and language problems. Other problems related to the whole spectrum of FASD can include abnormalities with the heart valves, kidneys and genitals, bone and joint problems and also inadequate hearing or vision.

Children born with these conditions will have them for their whole life. There is no quick fix available, but if the symptoms are picked up early, then support can hopefully be given to help the child, especially at school.

The advice given by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to pregnant mothers is to avoid alcohol completely if possible. If alcohol is not consumed during a pregnancy then there is no chance of a child being born with FAS.

Blackwater Law is a highly regarded medical negligence and personal injury law firm, with qualified solicitors who are senior litigators with APIL (Association for Personal Injury Lawyers). If you have think you may have a case for compensation, then talk to Blackwater Law on 0800 053 5500.