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Compensation for Teenager Damaged in the Womb Through Mother’s Excessive Alcohol Intake

Compensation for Teenager Damaged in the Womb Through Mother’s Excessive Alcohol Intake

A teenager who has suffered severe brain damage as a result of her mother drinking alcohol while she was in the womb has been awarded £500,000 in criminal injuries compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The 16-year-old from the northwest of England, was considered a victim of a crime because her mother persisted in drinking heavily despite warnings from health workers and police about the risks to her unborn child. In a letter to the teenager’s parents, the CICA, which administers the taxpayer-funded compensation scheme for injuries caused to victims of violent crime, confirmed that her brain damage was “a direct result of the mother’s excessive drinking during pregnancy”.

“Malcolm Underhill, says, “although the award is for a substantial sum, it is not a true reflection of the harm done to this teenager. Having suffered severe brain damage, she deserves more, to ensure that she has the support and care she requires, for her long term future. However, the damages are limited because the Government imposed a cap on the level of compensation than can be paid to victims of crime. Therefore, whilst the compensation will go some way to support this young person, it is likely to fall substantially short of what is required. Victims of crime deserve full compensation.”

Court of Appeal case may have far-reaching implications

This case comes ahead of a test case at the Court of Appeal later this year where it will be argued that a six-year-old girl with C (FAS) should receive full compensation because her claim was submitted to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) before November 2012, when rules on what constituted being a victim of crime were changed to exclude children damaged by alcohol in the womb. If successful, the case could have far-reaching implications.

DoH drinking in pregnancy recommendations

The Department of Health (DoH) recommends pregnant women do not consume alcohol, and if they do, limit it to 1-2 units, the equivalent of a small glass of wine, only once or twice a week. Health experts say only regular alcohol intake would result in babies being born with FAS, which can cause facial deformities, problems with physical and emotional development, and poor memory or a short attention span. FAS is explained in detail here .

Comment from Royal College of Midwives

Janet Fyle, professional policy adviser at the Royal College of Midwives, said while FAS was not common, it could have devastating effects. She said: “It is rare. But when it does happen, it really does manifest itself in terms of developmental issues. The child does not reach its milestones like other children. It also has withdrawal symptoms when it’s born.” She said it was midwives’ job to show expectant mothers the benefits of a healthy lifestyle – including not smoking or drinking large amounts – rather than to judge them for their choices. “It’s wrong for a woman to consume large amounts of alcohol while she is pregnant,” she concluded.

If you would like advice on making a clinical negligence or criminal injuries claim, you can contact a member of IBB’s Personal Injury team, call us on 08456 381 381 or email enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk.

Personal injury claims include those for serious head and spinal injuries, workplace injuries such as noise-induced hearing loss, and fatal illnesses such as mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. They can also include injuries sustained when you are a victim of a criminal act, or as a result of clinical negligence, as well as the psychological harm caused by child abuse – even years after the event.

IBB has built a reputation for quality of service in pursuing compensation in cases involving in all the aforementioned resulting in accident, illness or deaths.

Call our personal injury and clinical negligence experts in confidence on 01895 207835. Alternatively, email us at PI@ibblaw.co.uk.