DUBLIN, Ireland: Some one in 10 babies are born in Ireland each year with some form of medical disorder caused by their mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy, according to Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE), the nation's healthcare provider.
Further, HSE statistics detail that some 600 infants are born annually with severe alcohol-related damage to their brains.
HSE data reveals that some 6,000 babies are born in each year Ireland with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and 600 with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), the most severe form of the disease.
Of the 58,443 babies born in Ireland last year, one in 10 was born with FASD.
An earlier World Health Organization study reported that Ireland has reached the third-highest rate of FASD globally, at 47.5 per 1,000.
"The best available evidence estimates that about 600 Irish babies are born each year with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, with a further nine to 10 times this number of babies born annually in Ireland who have other Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders," said HSE official Mary Joe Biggs in response to a parliamentary question.
"The majority of these children will have no visible signs of disability at birth, and difficulties may not manifest until preschool or school age.
Experts note that FASD includes a host of disorders related to prenatal alcohol exposure, resulting in a range of lifelong physical, mental, educational, and behavioral difficulties.
Researchers report that alcohol has an adverse effect on a pre-natal infant's developing brain, and on body organs.
Experts also describe prenatal alcohol exposure as the leading preventable cause of neurodevelopmental disorder.
Children with FASD may struggle with learning, memory, attention, communication, emotional regulation, and social skills.
Also, FASD can cause learning and behavioral problems for a child, along with having difficulties with other people and exhibit emotional and mental health problems.
Infants with FASD may also be smaller than expected and display problems with eating and sleeping.
There are no tests to diagnose FASD, causing doctors to rely on physical or mental signs.