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Foetal alcohol case dismissed by UK court

A child born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is not entitled to compensation as a victim of crime, the UK Court of Appeal has ruled.

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The case would have set a precedent for thousands of children affected by FAS

Lawyers had argued that a seven-year-old girl born with severe brain damage due to her mother drinking while pregnant was a victim of crime and was entitled to compensation by the Government-funded Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. However the case was this morning dismissed by the Court of Appeal, according to reports by the BBC.

Appeal judges ruled that the mother had not committed a criminal offence, with a key aspect of the case being whether the foetus was an “independent person” at the time of its mother’s alcohol consumption.

If successful, the case would have set a precedent for thousands of children impacted by FAS, criminalising mothers who drink while pregnant and opening the door to thousands of claims.

Currently the NHS recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should avoid alcohol altogether, but adds that should a mother choose to drink they should not exceed more than one or two units once of twice a week and “should not get drunk”.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that very small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy is harmful. Thousands of children are estimated to be born each year in the UK with serious health defects caused by alcohol.

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