2013 FASD Statements by Government, MPs and Peers

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Health written question – answered on 5th December 2013.

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Andrew Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of foetal alcohol syndrome were reported in the last five years for which figures are available. [179699]

Jane Ellison: The following table contains the number of finished consultant episodes (FCE) where there was either a primary or secondary diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome in England.

Please note that these figures are not a count of people as the same person may have had more than one episode of care within any given time period.

Number of FCEs1 with either a primary or secondary diagnosis2 of fetal alcohol syndrome3 for the years 2008-09 to 2012-134
FCEs
2008-09 233
2009-10 212
2010-11 247
2011-12 310

5 Dec 2013 : Column 793W

2012-13 313
1 Finished Consultant Episode (FCE) A finished consultant episode (FCE) is a continuous period of admitted patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. FCEs are counted against the year in which they end. Figures do not represent the number of different patients, as a person may have more than one episode of care within the same stay in hospital or in different stays in the same year. 2 Number of episodes in which the patient had a primary or secondary diagnosis The number of episodes where this diagnosis was recorded in any of the 20 (14 from 2002-03 to 2006-07 and seven prior to 2002-03) primary and secondary diagnosis fields in a Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) record. Each episode is only counted once, even if the diagnosis is recorded in more than one diagnosis field of the record. 3 ICD-10 diagnosis code ICD-10 diagnosis code used: Q86.0 Foetal alcohol syndrome (dysmorphic) 4 Assessing growth through time (In-patients) HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, changes in activity may be due to changes in the provision of care.Notes: 1. Data quality HES are compiled from data sent by more than 300 NHS trusts and primary care trusts in England and from some independent sector organisations for activity commissioned by the English NHS. Health and Social Care Information Centre liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain. 2. Activity in English NHS Hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector. Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC)

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131205/text/131205w0002.htm#131205w0002.htm_wqn7


Abortion

Health written question – answered on 14th October 2013.

Alex Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans his Department has to raise awareness of foetal alcohol syndrome through public health campaigns targeting schools and local communities. [169932]

Jane Ellison: Start4Life includes the advice to avoid alcohol during pregnancy as part of our communications to pregnant women on having a healthy pregnancy but we do not specifically reference foetal alcohol syndrome. Local Health and Wellbeing Boards are ideally placed to pursue and target this issue at a local level, especially based upon their local data, identified need and prioritisation.

Start4Life is a campaign from Public Health England aimed at increasing the number of healthy babies and children under the age of five through promoting healthy behaviours in pregnancy (healthy eating, avoiding alcohol, stopping smoking, taking supplements and keeping active) and also in the early years of a child’s life (breastfeeding, safe introduction of solid foods, establishing healthy eating habits and physical activity).
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131014/text/131014w0006.htm#131014w0006.htm_wqn21


Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

 

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Health written question – answered on 14th October 2013.

Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consideration his Department has give to strengthening current advice to pregnant women by clearly labelling alcohol as a teratogen.

Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Government is committed to improving the labelling of alcoholic drinks.

As part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal, alcohol retailers and producers have committed to putting the advice ‘Avoid alcohol, if pregnant or trying to conceive’, or an alternative pregnancy warning logo, on 80% of labels on shelf by the end of 2013.

As set out in the Government’s Alcohol Strategy, the Department of Health has also commissioned a review of current drinking guidelines. This is being led by Dame Sally Davies, the Government’s chief medical officer.

The evidence review will include consideration of any new evidence on alcoholand pregnancy since the current guidelines were published in 2007.

The chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Irelandwill jointly oversee this work. We expect the review of evidence to conclude in January 2014.

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2013-10-14c.169933.h&s=foetal+alcohol


Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Health written question – answered on 14th October 2013.

Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if his Department will develop a foetal alcohol syndrome strategy.

Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Government’s Alcohol Strategy, published on 23 March 2012, addresses the full range of harm from alcohol.

The strategy recognises that:

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are caused entirely by drinking alcoholduring pregnancy and so are completely preventable; and

FASD can be caused by mothers drinking alcohol even before they know they are pregnant, so preventing them is strongly linked to reducing levels of heavy drinking in the population, especially among women.

We will continue to raise awareness of the need for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive to avoid alcohol, including by increasing the awareness of health professionals.

The chief medical officer is overseeing a review of the Government’s alcoholguidelines, including those for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.

The Department will continue to raise awareness of research needs for FASD, including gaps in our knowledge on whether a ‘safe’ level of alcoholconsumption could be identified, how to characterise and diagnose neurodevelopmental problems in children with1 FASD, prevalence of the condition, and effective treatment.

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2013-10-14c.169934.h&s=foetal+alcohol


Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Education written question – answered on 13th September 2013.

Dan Jarvis Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what plans he has to educate girls on foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Elizabeth Truss The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Education plays an important role in helping to ensure that young people are equipped with the information they need to make informed, healthy decisions and to keep themselves safe.

Schools are required to teach drug education as part of the national curriculum science key stage 2 and key stage 3. It is a matter for schools to decide whether they want to build on this provision through Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education.

The National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome UK (NOFAS-UK) is dedicated to supporting people affected by foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), and their families and communities. They have developed a range of materials available on their website specifically for teachers.

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2013-09-13b.169067.h&s=foetal+alcohol


Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Health written question – answered on 13th September 2013.

Dan Jarvis Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to produce a strategy to address foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Anna Soubry The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Government’s Alcohol Strategy, published on 23 March 2012, addresses the full range of harm from alcohol.

The strategy recognises that:

foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are caused entirely by drinking alcohol during pregnancy and so are completely preventable; and

FASD can be caused by mothers drinking alcohol even before they know they are pregnant, so preventing them is strongly linked to reducing levels of heavy drinking in the population, especially among women.

We will continue to raise awareness of the need for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive to avoid alcohol, including by increasing the awareness of health professionals.

The Chief Medical Officer is overseeing a review of the Government’s alcoholguidelines, including those for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.

The Department will continue to raise awareness of research needs for FASD, including gaps in our knowledge on whether a ‘safe’ level of alcohol consumption could be identified, how to characterise and diagnose neuro- developmental problems in children with FASD, prevalence of the condition, and effective treatment.

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2013-09-13b.169071.h&s=foetal+alcohol


Alcohol Strategy Consultation

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 1:24 pm on 17th July 2013.

Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): Thousands of babies are born damaged by alcohol every year, many with permanent genetic damage. Will the Government give further serious consideration to introducing legislation making it compulsory for all drinks containers to have a written health warning aimed at women of child-bearing age, combined with a pregnant mother symbol?

Mr Browne: The hon. Gentleman makes a serious point about the terrible fetal damage that excessive alcohol consumption can cause during pregnancy, although I think that it would be better directed at Health Ministers, rather than Home Office Ministers. I know that some warnings exist to alert expectant mothers to the risks, but no doubt the Minister for Public Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), will take his words seriously and see what more can be done.

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130717/debtext/130717-0002.htm#130717-0002.htm_spnew16


Clause 24 – Duty of health bodies to bring certain children to local authority’s attention

Children and Families Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 19th March 2013.

Sharon Hodgson Shadow Minister (Education)

 Hopefully, those extra health visitors will mean that they and their colleagues will be able to spend more time with each family and child, affording health visitors a greater chance of spotting the early signs of, for example, lack of bonding, lack of attachment, developmental delay or, prior to the birth, symptoms of avoidable pregnancy complications, such as from alcohol and drug abuse or smoking.

We know that those things can cause and increase the risk of children being born with birth defects such as foetal alcohol syndrome or an addiction to drugs—or of being born prematurely, in the case of smoking. All those things can lead to disabilities, ongoing health problems or special educational needs.

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmpublic/childrenandfamilies/130319/pm/130319s01.htm#1303209000251


Clause 13 – Control of expert evidence, and of assessments, in children proceedings

Children and Families Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 14th March 2013.

Edward Timpson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Clause 13 will strengthen the court’s control of the use of expert evidence in children’s proceedings and ensure that it is not overused or misused. It is a vital step in tackling unnecessary delays in public law proceedings—delays that can have a detrimental impact on children’s welfare. The clause has been widely welcomed by the judiciary, the Magistrates Association and others.

I am clear that expert evidence will continue to be needed in some cases where specialist expertise is required and cannot be obtained from another source. From memory, the president of the family division mentioned examples of such cases in his evidence to the Committee. Certainly, I can remember that from cases that I have been instructed in—non-accidental injury cases, cases involving foetal alcohol syndrome, cases of complex disability, and cases of particular forms of abuse, sexual abuse especially. In cases where the judge considers that specialist expertise is appropriate and necessary, it is important that it is still available, so that a case can be dealt with justly.

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/pbc/2012-13/Children_and_Families_Bill/08-0_2013-03-14a.5.0?s=foetal+alcohol#g5.4


Examination of Witnesses

Children and Families Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 5th March 2013.

Witness – Professor Selwyn: On the duty to inform, we have done a number of studies where adopters have said, “We were not told about the difficulties of the child. They were kept secret. The social worker downplayed the difficulties.” When I have talked to social workers and looked at the case files, however, it is apparent that the adopter has been told about the difficulties but that they have not really been explained to them.

For example, the social worker might say, “The child has attachment difficulties.” The consequences of that, however, and the reality of living with a child with that have not been explained to the adoptive parents. Or a child born with evidence of foetal alcohol difficulties: again, the prognosis and the outcome for that child have not been explained.

Another element of this is that when adopters are first getting a child, they are filled with optimism—they think, “We are going to make the difference to this child.” They look at the evidence with rose-tinted glasses. They are not in a position to understand the information that they are getting. I agree that all information should be passed over, but that is not a one-off piece of practice; it is something that the workers need to go back to the adopters with, over time, and to revisit, explaining what the consequences really are.

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/pbc/2012-13/Children_and_Families_Bill/01-0_2013-03-05a.3.0?s=foetal+alcohol#g3.73


Alcohol Consumption (Pregnancy)

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 26th February 2013.

6. Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): What assessment his Department has made of harm caused to babies by alcohol consumed during pregnancy; and if he will make a statement. [144341]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Anna Soubry): Foetal alcohol syndrome is a severe, lifelong condition caused by heavy alcohol consumption

26 Feb 2013 : Column 159

during pregnancy, and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder is usually less severe. There is a consensus, however, that FASD is more widespread.

Kelvin Hopkins: I thank the hon. Lady for her answer and for her recent letter to me on this subject. She will be aware of the Medical Research Council’s research suggesting that 7,000 babies are born every year suffering from serious genetic and permanent damage. Just as worrying, however, is that even moderate consumption can have an impact on IQ. In America, all drinks containers must have the following written on them

“According to the surgeon general, women should not drink alcohol beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects.”

When will the Government insist that all drinks containers in Britain carry the same slogan?

Anna Soubry: The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. Our advice is clear and the chief medical officer continues to give this advice: women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should not drink alcohol. If they feel that they must drink it, they should drink one or two units once or twice a week, at the very most. Our advice is clear, but he makes a good point, and I am happy to discuss it with him further.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): Recent NHS figures show that £2.7 billion was spent on alcohol-related illnesses. Will the Minister consider a campaign across the whole of the United Kingdom, including the Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland as a region, to combat the issue of drinking during pregnancy?

Anna Soubry: That is a very good point. The overconsumption of alcohol, whether by a pregnant woman or not, greatly concerns the Government, and that is one reason we want to introduce a minimum unit price of 45p. It was a good point well made, and I am always happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss the matter further.

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130226/debtext/130226-0001.htm#130226-0001.htm_wqn6