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NHS in the North East and North Cumbria, urges pregnant women: Be your baby's hero - keep alcohol at zero!

Health leaders in the North East and North Cumbria are urging women not to drink while trying to conceive or throughout their pregnancy

Pregnant women, their friends and family, are being reminded of the benefits to baby of not drinking during pregnancy. These cover both physical and mental development and include sight, brain development, growth, and motor skills. Alcohol during pregnancy can cause learning difficulties, heart problems, and permanent damage to a developing baby's brain. The Chief Medical Officer advises there is no safe amount.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can raise the risk of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), a lifelong condition, which can cause a range of physical, mental and behavioural problems for children. Statistics show that at least one baby is born in the North East every day with FASD.

Dr Neil O’Brien, executive medical director, North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board said: "It’s vital women are reminded of the benefits to their babies when they abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. Babies whose mums don't drink during pregnancy are at an advantage in terms of their learning and behaviour, their organ development, emotional and social outlook, and communication. The impact is wide-reaching and long-lasting. Additionally, not drinking can help reduce miscarriage and low birth weights."

Jayne Mackey is a North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust midwife said: "Abstaining from alcohol needs to be part of planning a pregnancy, to give a baby the best start in life. We know some pregnancies are unplanned, happy miracles, but from conception or from the first knowledge of pregnancy, a mother can help her baby by saying no to alcohol."

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