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Starting well

Promoting an alcohol free pregnancy

UK guidance recommends that for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all. Drinking during pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, and the greater the amount of alcohol consumed, the higher the risk. Experts estimate one child in 100 is affected as a result of their mother drinking alcohol whilst pregnant. An estimated 1,100 women in Cheshire West and Chester will continue drinking during pregnancy.

Key actions

  • Increase awareness of the harm of alcohol to the unborn child
  • Ensure that all professionals who have contact with pregnant women are trained in alcohol identification and brief advice (an evidence based conversational tool which has been shown to alter drinking behaviour)
  • Ensure the early identification and support of pregnant women drinking above recommended guidelines
  • Ensure that pregnant women who are identified as having an alcohol misuse problem can access effective treatment services and recovery support.

Protecting babies and toddlers from alcohol-related harm

Pre-school years are a time of rapid child development and what happens during these early years can influence health and wellbeing in later life. Parental alcohol misuse during this period may impact upon parenting and this can have harmful effects on a baby or toddler's health, safety and development. At its most extreme, alcohol misuse can increase the likelihood of child abuse and neglect, accidents and child death. Parental alcohol misuse may also cause relationships to suffer, break down or become abusive, which may have a negative impact on the development of young children.

Key actions

  • Increase awareness of the harms caused to babies and toddlers by parental alcohol misuse
  • Ensure the early identification and support of parents of babies and toddlers drinking above recommended guidelines
  • Ensure professionals who are in contact with parents of young children are able to offer alcohol identification and brief advice
  • Ensure parents of babies and toddlers identified as having an alcohol misuse problem can access effective treatment and services and recovery support.

Reducing alcohol-related harm in school age children

Alcohol has negative consequences on the health and wellbeing of school age children. This harm may occur because children live with a parent (or parents) who misuse alcohol, which may impact upon their parenting ability, and/or, the young person is involved in alcohol misuse themselves. We know that young people's bodies are less able to cope with alcohol and drinking at an early age can cause serious health problems (both physical and mental). Drinking at an early age is also associated with an increased risk of anti-social behaviour or crime, having more sexual partners, pregnancy and drug misuse.

Key actions

  • Increase awareness of the harms of alcohol misuse in high risk groups of school age children (in addition to Personal Health and Social Education PHSE)
  • Ensure the early identification and support of school age children drinking above recommended guidelines
  • Further develop a 'Making Every Contact Count' approach for health and social care staff
  • Ensure school age children identified as having an alcohol misuse problem can access effective treatment services and recovery support
  • Further develop targeted work to reduce underage drinking and associated anti-social behavior.

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