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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 August 2006, 05:47 GMT 06:47 UK
Alcohol damage to babies concern
Pregnant woman
Pregnant women are advised to avoid all alcohol
Some doctors are concerned about the number of children being damaged because their mother drank alcohol while pregnant.

Official figures suggest the number of children being diagnosed with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome has not changed dramatically over the last 10 years.

This represents only the severest cases, who are deformed at birth.

But some doctors think the extent of the problem may be masked by a common misdiagnosis of attention disorders.

Behavioural problems

Paediatricians said they were diagnosing increasing numbers of children with learning difficulties and hyperactivity as a result of their mother's drinking.

They say the true scale of the problem may be obscured by a common misdiagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, prescriptions for which have risen dramatically in recent years.

Many children develop behavioural problems as they approach school age.

Dr Diana Lever, a community paediatrician in the Borders, sees people over the age of five when problems are beginning to surface.

Dr Diane Lever
They will have difficulty concentrating taking in instructions and will have difficulty learning new concepts
Dr Diane Lever

She said: "They will have difficulty concentrating taking in instructions; they will have difficulty learning new concepts and frequently they will be quite good as far as being able to express themselves but their understanding will be quite poor."

Dr Adrian Margerison, a community paediatrician at Borders General Hospital, said that he had two cases of FAS in 1984, but now he has 10.

He said: "I would have to say that all the 10 patients have varying degrees of attention deficit and at least half are quite hyperactive.

"There is undoubtedly a chance this is more common than we think."

Dr John McClure, consultant paediatrician at Crosshouse Hospital in Ayrshire, said that he had 30 children with degrees of FAS.

He called for greater warnings to be issued with alcoholic drinks.

The symptoms of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome


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