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Avoid alcohol and keep babies safe

Bicester Advertiser: Julia Brown with her adopted daughter Niamh Julia Brown with her adopted daughter Niamh

A MOTHER who says her adopted daughter is ‘living proof of the dangers of drinking’ has appealed for people to take a few booze-free days to help boost her charity’s coffers.

Julia Brown founded the Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Trust after daughter Niamh was diagnosed with the relatively unknown condition.

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is caused by drinking during pregnancy and can cause lifelong brain damage, in some cases leaving people unable to live independently.

Mrs Brown, from Finstock, is hoping to raise awareness by asking people to give up alcohol for nine days in September and donate the money they would spend on it to the trust. She said Niamh was five years old when she and husband Simon realised something was wrong.

She said: “She had global developmental delay and was slow in doing things for her age, like crawling and walking. It soon became clear she was more than just ‘behind’.”

Niamh, now 13, was eventually diagnosed with FAS.

Mr and Mrs Brown set up the FASD Trust in 2007 when they discovered very little was known about the condition, which is believed to affect around one in every 100 babies born in the UK.

The charity provides help to families across the country.

Mrs Brown said: “When you drink, so does your baby. Niamh is living proof the dangers of drinking while pregnant. We’re seeing more and more children coming through with FAS.

“Alcohol has become so much a part of our culture.

“It’s almost a rite of passage for people not to remember the ages of 16 to 25 because they were so plastered.

“We are asking people and businesses to give up alcohol for nine days in September, to mark the International FASD Day, as it is the ninth day of the ninth month which equals the nine months of pregnancy you should avoid alcohol.

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“It would be great if each time they would normally go to a wine bar, they instead bought an orange juice and donated the difference to us.

“We’ll be encouraging people to send us photos of themselves drinking orange juice in the pub, having a night in with a big glass of lemonade on the rocks, and so on.

“Then, on September 9 we’ll invite people to have a BreakFASD – where people can have a fundraising breakfast too.”

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