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Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 417. Updated Tuesday, 08 July 2014

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Health to tackle drinking and babies

The Department of Health has launched a new campaign aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm on unborn and newborn babies.

The campaign includes training modules developed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners; the Australian College of Midwives; and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash said the Women Want to Know initiative would provide health professionals with better support and training on how to discuss the risks of alcohol consumption with women planning a pregnancy, and with new and expectant mothers.

"As any mother will know, there is a lot of information out there about every aspect of the health of their child," Senator Nash said.

Campaign to warn would-be mums

"Many women rightly choose to rely on their GP, obstetrician and other health professionals to provide this advice."

Senator Nash said health professionals needed to be able to convey the risks associated with drinking while pregnant in a way that didn't cause distress or embarrassment, or turn women away from wanting to receive further prenatal care.

"Women Want to Know will provide health professionals with training modules, brochures and other resources to help raise the issue of alcohol consumption with their patients in a way that's both informative and non-judgmental," she said.

"The campaign promotes the National Health and Medical Research Council's updated Alcohol Guidelines which state that no alcohol is the safest option if you are pregnant, breast feeding, or planning a pregnancy."

The materials include brochures to explain the health risks associated with drinking while pregnant and breastfeeding, including the risk of children developing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) which can cause a range of health, behavioural and developmental problems.

More information, including the resources, is available from the Department of Health here.

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