Teina Pora’s story raised the alarm.
Yet people with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum disorders are still ending up in jail.
Social awareness of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy has been building since the 1990s.
The experts say there is no ‘safe’ amount an expectant mother can drink.
Yet according to the Ministry of Health’s figures at least two in five Kiwi pregnancies are unplanned and half are exposed to alcohol – with one in 10 exposed to high levels of drinking.
New Zealand’s FASD working group estimates as many as 1 in 100 children suffer from FASD – although the exact prevalence of the condition is unknown.
In the United States a 2015 study explored who drank during pregnancy – finding it was most common among women with a tertiary degree.
The phenomenon was thought to be linked to higher discretionary income, and the likelihood of a binge-drinking culture established during their university years.
Despite earlier stereotypes studies now suggest only around 4 per cent of people living with FASD have the hallmark facial features that tend to be the first clue – meaning generations past are likely to have gone under-diagnosed.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne’s Taking Action on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Action plan launched last year estimates currently half of all of children in Child, Youth and Family (CYF) care have FASD.
Research for the plan found the current services for screening pregnant women for alcohol is inconsistent and the country’s health workforce’s ability to detect the disorder underdeveloped – with most New Zealand clinicians currently lacking the training to diagnose it.