02/02/2015 13:27 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Mum Who Drank Eight Cans Of Lager While Pregnant Apologises To Daughter For Giving Her Foetal Alcohol Syndrome


A mum who drank during pregnancy went on national television to apologise to her daughter for causing her Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

Linda McFadden, 49, went on ITV'S This Morning to describe how she drank eight cans of lager a day while pregnant with daughter Claire, now 20.

As a result, Claire weighed just 2lb when she was born and has endured a lifetime of learning difficulties and facial deformities caused by the syndrome.

FAS deprives an unborn baby of oxygen and nutrients due to a high blood alcohol concentration. This results in limited growth of white matter in the baby's brain, potentially causing learning difficulties and physical deformities such as small and narrow eyes, a small head, a smooth area between the nose and the lips and a thin upper lip.

Linda, who has now been dry for 14 years, told the show's hosts, Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes: "I knew it was my fault and I will always feel guilty.

"I was an addict - I couldn't control it - I needed a drink to get me through the day.

"I must have been aware that alcohol wasn't good while you are pregnant, but I didn't know what damage it could cause.

"I was drinking eight cans of lager a day, which is around 100 units a week, and maintained that for more than 15 years, but never considered myself an alcoholic.

"It was tough juggling a newborn and drinking, but the stress of trying to cut back would've been impossible.

"I'd wake up and feel so nauseous I'd vomit, then crack open a beer at 8am."

When Claire was born two months early she was given less than a 50 per cent chance of survival. Her mum said she broke down with the shame of what she had done to her baby daughter.

Speaking to The Sun, Linda said: "Of course I blamed myself - I came home crying as deep down, I knew it was my fault.

"But we couldn't do anything about it - we had to live with it. I have carried the guilt for years."

Today, Claire works as a PA, but says her school years were a nightmare - mainly because there was so little awareness about Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.

She said: "No one really knew anything about it - people just treated me differently and didn't take into account I had this condition.

"I was really shy, I wouldn't - and couldn't socialise - and my memory wasn't good.

"When Mum first told me about the alcohol, I was very angry - I did blame her a lot, all the time.

"But as I've got older, I completely understand - I can't blame her."

The number of babies being born with foetal alcohol syndrome caused by mothers drinking while pregnant has increased by almost 40 per cent in the last three years.

Between 2012 and 2013 doctors treated 252 cases of the syndrome, which can cause learning difficulties, organ damage and facial deformity, in England alone.

Susan Fleisher, chief executive of the National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, said recently: "There have been studies in Italy and the US that say that between 2 per cent and 5 per cent.

"And, remember, Britain is the number one binge-drinking country in Europe. The chances are we are closer to five per cent, although we can't say that for sure because it is under-diagnosed and difficult to diagnose."

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