Russell Worth Personal Injury Blog:

Could drinking while pregnant become a criminal act?

Mar 18, 2014 | General Personal Injury News

Russell Worth Personal Injury Blog:

Could drinking while pregnant become a criminal act?

­A recent court case has resurfaced the slightly grey area of how much women can drink while pregnant. The case from the Northwest is to be heard in the Court of Appeal as a potential act of criminality!

The slightly ambiguous advice offered by authorities over the amount of alcohol a pregnant woman can consume has been long debated and this case has brought it to the fore in what sets to be a landmark hearing.

What are the dangers of drinking while pregnant?

The issues that can arise from drinking while pregnant are wide and varied but a lot of kids born of these circumstances are diagnosed with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Symptoms of FAS include facial deformities, short term memory and physical and emotional development.

Although the mother who cannot be named for legal reasons has not been convicted of any crimes in the past, she is facing legal pressure from a North West council as they believe that the child was “maliciously administered poison so as to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm” – a crime under section 23 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Current NHS Guidelines

“Women should be advised that if they choose to drink alcohol while they are pregnant, they should drink no more than 1-2 units of alcohol once or twice a week. There is uncertainty about how much alcohol is safe to drink in pregnancy, but at this low level there is no evidence of any harm to their unborn baby.”

They do add however that “if women want to avoid all possible alcohol-related risks, they should not drink alcohol during pregnancy because the evidence on this is limited. “

It is a serious and interesting debate – one that we will follow with interest. If a childs life is severely hampered because of the one person that is supposed to be responsible for it drinking then we dare say there should be repercussions but we are not sure that a criminal injuries personal injury claim is the form it should take like some have suggested.

Further reading

National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

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