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Alcohol Effects On Your Baby

Upon finding out that she’s pregnant, the typical American woman begins to abstain from drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. Alcohol in particular can have a devastating effect on the unborn child, often resulting in fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS. Here are some commonly asked questions regarding drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

FAS often causes mental retardation. It can cause heart problems, physical deformities, vision and hearing problems, and behavioral issues. More about the symptoms of FAS can be found at the Mayo Clinic website and at the Centers for Disease Control.

What are other problems associated with drinking alcohol while pregnant?

Besides FAS, an unborn child can be susceptible to other Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, such as Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ARND) and Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE).

How much alcohol is safe to consume while pregnant?

The commonly held wisdom is that even light drinking is harmful to the developing fetus. It is best to avoid all alcohol during pregnancy. There is some evidence, however, that a small amount of alcohol might not be dangerous in some cases. The most prudent course of action is to avoid alcohol during all stages of pregnancy.

How can FAS be prevented?

The easiest and most effective way to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome is to avoid all alcohol during the course of your pregnancy.

Where can I find more information on FAS, ARND, and FAE?

Some resources for more information include the following:

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders

Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders

The AAP policy on FAS and related disorders

What if I cannot stop drinking?

If you are unable to control your drinking, you may be an alcoholic. There are support groups available to you. Some are

Alcoholics Anonymous, for the person who drinks, and Al-Anon, for the person affected by someone else’s drinking.

Hotlines are also available for those who cannot stop drinking. These include the US Department of Health at (800) 729-6686, and the Alcohol Treatment Referral Hotline, at (800) 252-6465.

Where can I find more information on alcoholism?

Here are some resources for more information:

The Alcoholism Home Page

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Alcoholism by the Mayo Clinic

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