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The damage that some babies can suffer when pregnant women drink heavily has again floated into the public consciousness after the Privy Council accepted that the then convicted murderer Teina Pora suffered from Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

It quashed his conviction for the murder and rape of Susan Burdett and decided that his "frequently contradictory and often implausible confessions and the recent diagnosis of his FASD lead to only one possible conclusion ... that reliance on his confessions gives rise to a risk of a miscarriage of justice."

The number of people in New Zealand affected by the disorder is unknown, but some estimates indicate that 3,000 babies are born with it every year.

In this Insight highlight, Philippa Tolley has been speaking to families coping with the disorder, medical experts and Youth Court Judges about what needs to be done.