The NHS in Kent and Medway supports the #BeAware campaign from the Kent-based charity FASD Awareness.

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) means lifelong impairments that can result from brain damage caused by a baby being exposed to alcohol before birth. These impairments can show themselves in a variety of ways as the child gets older, including through speech and language, memory, learning and behaviour issues.

Avoid alcohol in pregnancy

The main way to prevent this condition is for women to not drink alcohol while they are pregnant.

Becky Collins, Director of Maternity and Neonatal Services at NHS Kent and Medway, said: “We support the charity’s drive to educate people, particularly pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy, about the causes and effects of FASD.

“NHS advice continues to be that the safest approach, to keep risks to an unborn baby to a minimum is to not drink alcohol at all during pregnancy. The more you drink, the greater the risk of causing long-term harm to your baby.”

If you need support to reduce your drinking, there are services available to help. 

Living with FASD

Dr Soji Abiona, Consultant Paediatrician and Trustee of FASD Awareness said: ‘FASD is probably the most common preventable cause of non-genetic learning disability.

“The characteristics of FASD cannot be cured. The needs of each individual require specialist assessment and lifelong support. Timely diagnosis and support can, and has been shown to, lead to positive and more fulfilled lives.”

Patients with FASD may be living with complex, physical, mental, psychological and emotional difficulties. As society demands more of them, they are less able to manage.

Supporting families and children

The NHS across Kent and Medway is working hard to train health professionals to identify and support those with FASD, to improve diagnosis rates and put enhanced support in place for children and their families.

Andrew Keeping, CEO of FASD Awareness, said: "We know people were drinking more as a result of the national lockdowns due to Covid-19 and it is predicted there may be more babies than ever born with FASD in the coming years. Our charity wants reach out to as many families and individuals living with FASD as we can."

FASD Awareness has launched a film – watch here.