A teenager who had suffered severe brain damage as a result of her pregnant mother’s drinking alcohol has been awarded £500,000 in criminal injuries compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
The 16 year old from the north west of England was considered a victim of a crime because her mother persisted in drinking heavily despite warnings from health workers and police about the risks to her unborn child.
In a letter to the teenager’s parents, CICA, which administers a taxpayer – funded compensation scheme for injuries caused to victims of violent crime, confirmed that her brain damage was “a direct result of the mother’s excessive drinking during pregnancy”.
FAS and the wider Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder affect 6,000 to 7,000 babies born each year in the UK. FAS results in a characteristic set of facial features. The clinical features of other forms of FASD are not defined but result in cognitive impairment.
They may have difficulty in applying specific learning to new experiences or situations, and in perceiving similarities and differences. No wonder they have lifelong problems with legal authorities.
Apart from this new compensation case, it can cost the authorities over a million pounds in life time care costs for such victims. The conditions are entirely preventable. No alcohol when pregnant. Full stop!
Tragically the binge drinking culture results in many young girls drinking alcohol before they realise they are pregnant. The number born each year can only be guessed, but approximately one in a hundred children are affected.
There is one small ray or hope. A 2006 case study in the International Journal of Paediatrics reported a case study by Professor Kenneth Stoller, who treated a FAS teenager in a hyperbaric chamber with 100% oxygen resulting in sustained durable cognitive improvements and further treatment resulted in further improvement.
This cases study needs replicating and we hope to do this at Castle Craig later this year.