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    Supporting local women not to drink during pregnancy to prevent their unborn child being exposed to alcohol

    Red ShoesTAMESIDE women of childbearing age are being urged to reduce their alcohol consumption to avoid the health risks for themselves and their babies and to prevent Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
    FASD is a neurodevelopmental condition with lifelong cognitive, emotional and behavioural challenges caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy.  It can lead to an unborn child developing damage to their brain, heart, kidneys and bones, learning difficulties, facial features, and symptoms similar to autism and attention deficit disorder.
    The Tameside Alcohol Exposed Pregnancy (AEP) programme is part of a wider Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP) programme, which focuses on prevention, early intervention and awareness raising.
    As part of this local programme, Tameside Council is backing FASD Awareness Day on 9 September 2021 urging anyone who is pregnant or thinks they could become pregnant, to take the safe approach and not to drink alcohol at all.
    Change Grow Live (CGL), The Women and Families Centre and Early Years Strengthening Tameside’s Approach to Repeat Separations ‘STARS’, are working in partnership with Tameside Council’s Population Health team to deliver a prevention intervention programme in the borough.  To date, over 500 local women have accessed these sessions and improved their understanding and awareness of the risks of drinking pre-conceptually and during pregnancy.  Participants of the programme are encouraged to access contraceptive services if wanted.
    A local research study conducted by Salford University found that FASD could affect 1.8% of children who participated. If this is applied to the whole of Greater Manchester it would mean between 691-1 238 affected live births each year. Visit http://hub.salford.ac.uk/fasd/
    The Chief Medical Officer’s guideline is that: If you are pregnant or think you could become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum. Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, with the more you drink the greater the risk.
    Anyone who wants to learn more this FASD awareness day can attend these free events below:  
    • Action Together are running a Wednesday weekly session starting on 8 September at 1pm, to increase the awareness of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.
    • Rochdale Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Network have launched a peer support e-book. Anyone across the UK can use the e-book for free. 
    • Sheffield Children’s Safeguarding partnership are hosting a virtual FASD conference on the 9 September which has an exciting list of speakers. 
    For details visit https://www.tameside.gov.uk/FASD
    Tameside Council Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Population Health, Councillor Eleanor Wills, said: “All women of childbearing age are at risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.  Most women do reduce alcohol consumption after learning that they are pregnant, but many do not recognise that they are pregnant during the early weeks and continue to drink.  
    “We need to reach out to women who don’t know about the health risks associated with drinking alcohol during pregnancy and let them know where they can seek help and support.
    “Anyone who is concerned about the risks should contact their GP or Midwife.”
    To find out more about FASD and to sign up and spread the word visit https://www.drymester.org.uk/
    People can also show their support by wearing red shoes and posting on social media to help keep the risk to babies to a minimum.  Remember to use the hashtag - #RedShoesRock #FASDmonthUK
    [Photo: Sophie Quinn, Public Health Programme Officer for the Alcohol Exposed Pregnancies Programme at Tameside Council]