September is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Month, an opportunity to share there is no known safe amount, no safe time, and no safe type of alcohol during pregnancy.
What is FASD?
The term fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) describe a collection of conditions that can occur in individuals whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy. The manifestations can include physical problems, problems with behavior and learning, or a combination of some or all of these problems.
There are several defined types of FASDs:
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS): FAS is the most severe end of the FASD spectrum. In the most extreme situations fetal death results from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. People with FAS might have physical symptoms such as abnormal facial features and growth problems; central nervous system problems; problems with learning, memory, attention span, communication, vision, or hearing; or any combination of these problems. People with FAS often have a hard time in academic and social settings.
- Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder: Individuals with ARND might have intellectual disabilities and problems with behavior and learning; as such they might do poorly in school and have difficulties with math, memory, attention, judgment, and impulse control.
- Alcohol-Related Birth Defects: People with alcohol-related birth defects might have various physical problems such as issues with the heart, kidneys, skeleton, or hearing. They might also have a combination of these problems.
How common is FASD?
Data is limited on the prevalence of FASDs due to several factors, including the diverse types of FASDs and underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis. Experts estimate that the full range of FASDs in the United States might represent 2% to 5% of the population.
Is there any safe time to drink during pregnancy?
There is no safe time during pregnancy for a mother to drink alcohol, as it can cause developmental problems throughout pregnancy. Drinking alcohol is dangerous even before a woman knows she is pregnant. While some FASD outcomes are more likely at different times during the pregnancy, brain development in particular occurs throughout gestation, and growth and central nervous system problems can occur from drinking alcohol at any time. However, it is never too late in the pregnancy to stop drinking; the sooner a mother stops drinking during pregnancy, the less likely that symptoms will manifest or be severe.
Is there any safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy?
No amount of alcohol is currently deemed safe for pregnant women, and for this reason there is no threshold list for alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
Since prenatal alcohol use has been proven to affect the developing fetus through a variety of mechanisms into the endocrine, nervous, circulatory, musculoskeletal, and gastrointestinal systems, it is not possible to determine the amount and timing of alcohol use that would be considered absolutely safe during a pregnancy.
Is there any safe type of alcohol to drink during pregnancy?
All types of alcohol are equally harmful during pregnancy, including all wines and beer. When a pregnant woman consumes alcohol of any kind, so does the developing baby.
Where can I find help with my alcohol use?
There are many helpful resources for help with alcohol misuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has an excellent treatment locator web site that may help to find an appropriate program within a short distance. Many outpatient centers and some inpatient centers have services that include children or child care.
If you have questions about alcohol and pregnancy, please bring it up with your OB/Gyn. We care about you and your baby, and we want to help you have the healthiest pregnancy possible and the best possible outcome.
Premier OB-Gyn is accepting new patients in both our Maitland, FL and Oviedo, FL locations. We would be happy to see you! Please call 321-397-1212 or visit www.premierob-gyn.com to book your appointment!