Written Answers - Health Service Research Projects.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 686 No. 3

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  76.  Deputy David Stanton  Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton   asked the Minister for Health and Children  Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney   further to an adjournment debate response of 26 May 2009, regarding foetal alcohol syndrome, the location at which the new research project to evaluate alcohol exposure in pregnancy will take place; her Departmental or Health Service Executive policy regarding contact with general practitioners and specialists regarding the diagnosis and management of foetal alcohol syndrome; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26341/09]

  89.  Deputy David Stanton  Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton   asked the Minister for Health and Children  Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney   further to an adjournment debate response of 26 May 2009, regarding foetal alcohol syndrome, the contact she has had with the Health Service Executive in relation to the development of proposals for a new research project in a large maternity hospital which aims to evaluate the prevalence of alcohol exposure in pregnancy; the other research she will conduct or commission in relation to the prevalence of foetal alcohol syndrome; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26340/09]

Minister of State at the Department of the Health and Children (Deputy Áine Brady): Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 89 together.

In order to establish the levels of alcohol, smoking, and illicit drug use during pregnancy, a research team reviewed 125,945 maternal records spanning 1988 to 2005 held by the Coombe Women’s Hospital. The results of the research, which was funded by my Department, were published in March 2007. Subsequently, the Department’s Chief Medical Officer asked the Health Service Executive to consider the findings outlined in the report and to decide on appropriate actions which needed to be taken.

The Health Service Executive has entered into a new research project by way of a Service Level Agreement with the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital to:

(1) Evaluate the prevalence of alcohol exposure in pregnancy, the patterns of behaviour (social drinking, binge drinking, sustained heavy drinking) and the factors that influence whether or not a woman drinks alcohol preconceptually and during each trimester of pregnancy;

(2) Follow a cohort of woman who drink alcohol during pregnancy to evaluate the impact on the infant’s condition at birth and subsequent development;

(3) Explore the health promotion opportunities in terms of advising women to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

This research project, which has a three-year timeframe is well under way. A full systematic review of perinatal outcomes following alcohol exposure has been completed and is being documented at present. The research initiative outcomes will enable the Health Service Executive, in consultation with key stakeholders, to develop clear protocols in respect of the diagnosis [806]and management of foetal alcohol syndrome/spectrum disorders. In the meantime diagnosis and management of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is a matter for individual clinicians.

The Health Service Executive would, therefore, encourage all clinicians providing pregnancy-related care to offer appropriate advice in relation to an individual’s alcohol consumption on the basis that it is in the best interests of the baby for mothers to avoid alcohol consumption during pregnancy.


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