Fas Fasd Alcohol Pregnant Birth Defects Fetal Disorders Drinking Pregnancy

Drinking when Pregnant – FASD

Alcohol and drug abuse during pregnancy are the leading known preventable causes of birth defects in the United States. It may be common knowledge that elevated consumption of alcohol during pregnancy is harmful to the fetus, however, even modest “drinking” can cause serious health issues for the baby.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are common causes of mental retardation and behavioral disorders in children. FAS can occur during fetal development -especially during the first trimester if a pregnant woman consumes alcohol. FASDs can also manifest after birth as the child grows – resulting in severe mental and physical abnormalities. In fact, studies show that any use of alcohol by pregnant women increases the risk of giving birth to a baby with a physical or mental disorder. Children with FASD have far more severe behavioral issues than children with Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD). http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090716164335.htm

Sample characteristics of children born with FASDs:

Intellectual disabilities Poor memory, inferior reasoning ability, and learning disorders Abnormal physical features – especially facial and head features Physical ailments including organs, hearing and sight

Studies performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that up to 1.5 cases of FAS occur for every 1000 live births in the United States. Approximately 10 percent of surveyed pregnant women reported any alcohol use and an estimated 2 percent of them engaged in binge drinking or frequent use of alcohol. More than half of all women surveyed that might become pregnant revealed they regularly drink alcohol. Curiously, CDC studies appear to show Northern states have a greater propensity toward binge drinking among women of childbearing years.

According to the CDC, fetal alcohol disorders are 100 percent preventable if a woman does not drink during her pregnancy (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/index.html). Scientific evidence is inconclusive as to how much alcohol consumption is safe if any. It is better to err on the side of caution and avoid drinking alcoholic beverages completely for expectant mothers. If the mother drinks, so does the fetus. Therefore, the CDC strongly encourages women not to drink alcohol at all during their pregnancies.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) estimates that 40,000 to 75,000 drug or alcohol exposed babies are born each year in the U.S. – that is 1 to 2 percent of all live births. Clearly, prenatal and post-natal awareness is required addressing the dangers of alcohol use by expectant mothers – or women planning a pregnancy. Agencies like the CDC and the March of Dimes are trying to educate the public about this problem. The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOAFS) is an organization dedicated to educating the public and pursuit of eliminating birth defects caused by alcohol use during pregnancy. Recently, Congressman Norm Dicks (Chairman – U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior) pledged his commitment to work with the NOAFS and work on initiatives to fight FASD.

A few states are attempting to solve the problem of substance abuse during pregnancy. Wisconsin and South Dakota both have new fetal rights laws in order to protect the unborn children. Women are encouraged to read more on this topic after consulting with their own health care provider. More information may be found by contacting National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (http://www.nichcy.org/Pages/Home.aspx).

Additional resources:

http://www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/14332_1170.asp

http://www.nofas.org/