• Legal test case claims brain damaged six-year-old girl is victim of crime
• Argues she was ‘poisoned’ after her mother drank alcohol while pregnant
• Case is being brought before Court of Appeals by local council in England
• If successful, verdict could affect expectant mothers across the country
• Comes as 7,000 babies are revealed to suffer problems due to alcohol

PUBLISHED: 09:35 GMT, 2 February 2014 | UPDATED: 16:09 GMT, 2 February 2014


Case: Women who harm their unborn babies by drinking alcohol during pregnancy could be found guilty of a criminal offence, it has been revealed.

A new legal test case claims a six-year-old girl who suffered brain damage due to alcohol exposure in the womb is the victim of a crime.
It believes her mother ‘poisoned’ her by continuing to drink while pregnant – despite being warned of the risks.
The case is being brought before the Court of Appeal by a council in north west England, according to The Sunday Times.

If successful, it could mean that women across the country may be convicted of a criminal act if they damage their unborn child by drinking during pregnancy.
Meanwhile, local councils and adoptive parents could be awarded compensation – on behalf of affected children – to help pay for their medical costs.
Current guidelines state that expectant mothers should avoid alcohol – but if they do choose to drink, they should limit their consumption to one or two units a week.
Lawyers in the case are representing 80 children across the UK who suffered from foetal alcohol spectrum disorder after their mothers drank alcohol while pregnant.
The disorder causes a range of physical and mental health problems, including facial abnormalities, learning disabilities and growth issues.
Many of the children – including the six-year-old girl – have now been adopted or placed in foster care.
Neil Sugarman, a managing partner at GLP Solicitors, said the council had considered making an application under the criminal injuries compensation scheme.
He told the newspaper: ‘It thought there was an argument that the child had been damaged by being the victim of a crime – the crime being the birth mother carrying on drinking knowing that it could damage the child.’

Foetal Alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is caused by alcohol exposure in the womb.
He added that all of the cases he dealt with had ‘good evidence’ that the expectant mothers had been warned of the risks of drinking while pregnant.
In an earlier tribunal of the test case, the young girl was found to be the victim of a crime.

However, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority has appealed against this decision – claiming the child was a foetus – and therefore, ‘not a person’ – at the time.
Meanwhile, women’s rights campaigners have also warned that giving legal rights to unborn babies could have serious implications.
It comes as up to 7,000 children a year in Britain have been revealed to be affected by alcohol exposure in the womb.

Paediatricians – who specialise in the care of children – claim as many as 1 per cent of babies born in England suffer behavioural or developmental problems from their mothers’ drinking.
One consultant even said that if women must have one bad habit while pregnant, it would be safer to smoke tobacco or cannabis than drink alcohol.

Dr Neil Aiton, a paediatrician at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘If it is a choice between a drink, a smoke or a spliff then ‘don’t drink’, would be my recommendation.
‘We have firm evidence that drinking alcohol regularly is damaging.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2550391/Women-drink-alcohol-pregnancy-guilty-criminal-offence.html#ixzz2ty7rsROU