Foetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a group of conditions that develop in children whose brains are permanently and irreversibly damaged before they are born. They can manifest in a range of ways, from learning difficulties to developmental delays, sensory overload, impaired memory, impulsiveness and co-ordination problems. The single factor shared by everyone on the spectrum is that their mothers drank during pregnancy. How much alcohol is enough to cause damage is unclear. “Predicting the risk in individual women is very difficult because every woman metabolises alcohol differently,” says Elizabeth Elliott, professor of paediatrics and child health at the University of Sydney.
– Fiona Harari