A NEW programme to support women who drink alcohol while pregnant is launching in Bury.

The launch on Tuesday, June 1 2021 follows the successful implementation of the programme in the region last year.

The Alcohol Exposed Pregnancy programme will provide pregnant women, their partners and carers with information and guidance around the impact of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

It will also offer practical support and treatment for those with alcohol dependency and link in with local sexual health clinics to provide access to family planning and contraception support.

The aim is to reduce Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (mental, physical and neurological impairments caused by alcohol use during pregnancy) and support the wellbeing of women in the community by raising awareness of the dangers of drinking while pregnant and increasing access to sexual health services and contraception.

The Chief Medical Officers for the UK recommend that if you're pregnant or planning to 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.

Miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth have all been associated with binge drinking during pregnancy, which is defined as drinking more than six units on one occasion. And one report by Sokol in 2007, looking at women aged 30 and over, found that drinking five units of alcohol per week during pregnancy made the risk of miscarriage almost four times more likely.

Drinking heavily throughout pregnancy can cause Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which around 6,000 children are born with each year nationally. Children with FASD can show one or more symptoms such as; learning difficulties, problems with emotional development and behaviour, memory and attention deficits, hyperactivity, difficulty in organising and planning, problems with language, facial deformities, poor muscle tone, and being small at birth and throughout life.

As a result of their difficulties with learning, judgement, planning, and memory, people with FASD may experience additional problems throughout life, such as; a disrupted education, trouble with the law, psychiatric problems, alcohol and drug problems, and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

The Alcohol Exposed Pregnancy programme will provide improved information and advice to pregnant women about drinking during pregnancy and the risks involved. They will offer support and treatment to help pregnant women reduce their alcohol intake, to reduce the number of children born with FASD.

Lisa Sloan, operational manager at Achieve Drug and Alcohol Recovery Services, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH), said: “We are really excited and proud to be in a position where GMMH can work with pregnant women and sexual health services to raise awareness of alcohol related harm to babies, and to safeguard future pregnancies.

"We hope to see a reduction in babies developing a serious condition called Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) across Greater Manchester.

“Ahead of the launch across Bury, Bolton, Salford and Trafford, all Recovery Coordinators and Assessment staff have received comprehensive training to ensure that expert advice, support and treatment is available to all women, their partners and carers who need it.”

Alcohol Support Services

If you would like help with cutting down what you drink or advice on avoiding alcohol in pregnancy, please contact Achieve Drug and Alcohol Recovery Services:

Bury - 0161 271 0020

Bolton – 02104 483 090

Salford – 0161 358 1530

Trafford – 0161 358 0991