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A young child is not entitled to criminal injuries compensation after her mother drank excessively while pregnant, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Three appeal judges unanimously ruled that a mother who is pregnant and who drinks to excess "despite knowledge of of the potential harmful consequence to the child" who is "born damaged as a result" is not guilty of a criminal offence under British law.
Judges were told that the mother drank an "an enormous amount" while pregnant including a half-bottle of vodka and eight cans of strong lager a day, leading to the child being born with an alcohol-related disease.
A local authority in North West England had fought the compensation battle on behalf of the child, now aged seven, who suffers with learning, development, memory and behaviour problems.
If the appeal had succeeded it could have led to pregnant women's behaviour being criminalised, according to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) and Birthrights.
Bpas welcomed the verdict saying it was an "extremely important ruling" for women who "must be able to make their own decisions about their pregnancies."