Pregnancy and Children

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome     Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

If you are pregnant, consuming alcohol can be very harmful to your baby. Remember that your baby eats and drinks whatever you do and that when you take a drink of alcohol, so does your unborn child.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink while you are pregnant and there is no safe time to drink during pregnancy.  Therefore, it is recommended that if you are pregnant you abstain from drinking alcohol during your entire pregnancy. 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

One of the most severe effects of drinking during pregnancy is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).  Fetal alcohol syndrome is just one of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) that alcohol during pregnancy can cause.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is a permanent condition and is characterized by abnormal facial features, growth deficiencies and central nervous system problems including problems with sleep and sucking disturbances in infancy, motor coordination, hyperactivity, learning, memory, attention span, communication, vision, and hearing.  A child with FAS or with another fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is also at risk for psychiatric problems and antisocial and criminal behavior. FAS is one of the major preventable causes of mental retardation and birth defects.

The incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome varies from 0.2 to 1.5 per 1,000 births in different areas of the U. S. with other FASDs occurring at approximately three times as often as fetal alcohol syndrome.

Preventing  FAS and FASDs

Fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are totally preventable.  If you do not consume alcohol while you are are pregnant, your child will not have FAS or FASD.  However, if you have consumed alcohol, it is probably not too late to stop drinking alcohol. The sooner you stop drinking, the better it will be for both you and your baby.  

If you having trouble with drinking and are not able to stop, contact your health care provider, local Alcoholics Anonymous, or local alcohol treatment center. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a Substance Abuse Treatment Facility locator that can help you find an alcohol treatment program.

You may also want to read the February 2005 U.S. Surgeon General Advisory on Alcohol Use in Pregnancy and visit the website links below.

Additional Information

American Pregnancy: Alcohol and its effects

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Center

National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

March of Dimes:  Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy

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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome     Fetal Alcohol Syndrome












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