Booze warnings overdue
THE devastation on unborn lives wrought by alcohol is horrendous. Innocent children born into the world with foetal alcohol syndrome are burdened with lifelong physical and or neurodevelopmental impairments.
A lack of public recognition of the extent of the problem is part of the reason why foetal alcohol syndrome remains at such high levels across many communities, estimated to be two to five per cent of all children.
Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the leading cause of birth defects, developmental and learning disabilities worldwide, according to FASD Australia.
In Australia, attitudes to alcohol have traditionally been often unhealthy. Turning the tide in education to prevent FASD is crucial.
The Herald Sun yesterday reported that a lack of action by the alcohol industry to adopt voluntary labelling had forced health authorities to act. Having been given seven years to self-regulate, 25 per cent of alcoholic bottles continue to not have warning labels about the risks of drinking during pregnancy. Australian and New Zealand health ministers have now agreed to impose mandatory labels for all alcohol products. Those warnings will include a pictogram and a warning statement developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
The challenge is not met by labels alone, though. While the incidence of FASD occurs across the social spectrum, higher prevalence is seen in indigenous communities and those at the fringes, including people in the criminal justice system.
Education is key in preventing innocent lives being damaged by the syndrome through ignorance, addiction or recklessness.