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Evidence and Common Sense: Do Not Drink While Pregnant

February 9, 2018
Plain English Version

Extreme Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

If drinking can make you drunk, what does it do to the baby (fetus) growing inside you? It may do great harm.

Study after study warns of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). That is the condition of some babies born to mothers who drink alcohol. There is widespread agreement among experts. Some American children may be suffering from neurological damage. It is because their mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy.

A new study says children born with FASD may equal that of children born with autism symptoms. Experts say the disorders can cause cognitive, behavioral and physical problems. They can hurt children’s development and learning ability. Other signs of the disorder include damage to the brain.

Experts estimate that about 1.5 percent of all children have autism. Children with FASD are around 1.5 to 5 percent of children.

The FASD estimate is not without critics. Some experts say the children in the new study may not represent all children. Others say the mothers who completed the surveys may not have been truthful.

But a study author said, “This is a common disorder. It is preventable and one that we are missing.”

FASD disorders can cause many difficulties. For example, some children have smaller-than-average heads and bodies. They may have eyes that are narrow. They may have thin upper lips. The skin between their nose and mouth may be smoother than usual.

Researchers are trying to find out how much drinking will cause damage to the unborn child. They are trying to find out when, during pregnancy, drinking does the most harm. When you have a child with FASD, you have just seen a mother who drank while she was pregnant. And she harmed her child.

Another finding of the study was that almost none of the children in the study were diagnosed as having FASD. Still, many parents stated that their children had learning and behavioral problems. An expert said, “If not in one classroom, but in another, there is going to be one or two of these kids with these problems. But they are not known (recognized) to have FASD.”

A report said “no amount of alcohol intake is safe” anytime during a pregnancy. Some experts noted that half of American pregnancies are not planned. Some even say that sexually active women who are not using birth control should “not drink alcohol at all.”

Source: The New York Times February 6, 2018

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