Doctors want to bring in alcohol tests for pregnant women – thejournal.ie

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AN ORGANISATION REPRESENTING doctors in Ireland has voted in favour of introducing alcohol testing for women.

Dr Ann Hogan, former president of the Irish Medical Organisation which represents doctors in Ireland, told Newstalk Breakfast that the proposal was to reduce the incidents of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders in Ireland.

She explained that the tests would be easy to carry out and that it would help doctors intervene in cases where women were drinking during pregnancy.

“All pregnant women at every check up usually bring in a urine sample to test for a range of things, including protein and infection to ensure that they remain well during their pregnancy.

“It’s possible to also test for.. one of the metabolites of alcohol that would be present for up to 10 days after a bout of drinking.”

She said each person’s body processes alcohol differently depending on their genes, so the same level of alcohol could impact one woman’s pregnancy and have little to no effect on another pregnancy.

Dr Hogan said that when people are asked about how much they drink, there’s a tendency to say it’s less than the true amount.

“Women are getting mixed messages about drinking during pregnancy,” Hogan said. ”So what we want to do is do a test that will prove if they were drinking in the last few days or not.”

A) It gives a doctor an opportunity to make a brief intervention, which has proven to be effective to stop drinking during pregnancy, and b) it would tell you the true instance of what’s going on.

Hogan explained that foetal alcohol syndrome is “a particular set of facial deformities associated with brain damage”, which occurs if someone has been drinking heavily during

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