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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are caused by alcohol use in pregnancy. The greatest risk is from daily alcohol use and binge drinking. Since there is no known safe level of alcohol use, pregnant women and women trying to conceive should avoid alcohol use. FASD symptoms can include birth defects with changes to facial features, heart and other organ defects, and skeletal defects. Developmental delays can include learning disabilities, attention deficit, and impaired executive functioning (reasoning, understanding right and wrong), and behavioral issues. Individuals with more involved symptoms may require lifelong care and medical attention.

There is no safe amount or type of alcohol to consume during pregnancy.

Any amount of alcohol, even if it is one glass of wine, passes from the mother to the baby. It makes no difference if the alcohol is wine, beer, or liquor (vodka, rum, tequila, etc.)

A developing baby can't process alcohol.

Developing babies lack the ability to process alcohol with their liver, which is not fully formed. They absorb all of the alcohol and have the same blood alcohol content as the mother.

Alcohol, is a neurotoxin and causes more harm than heroin or cocaine during pregnancy.

The Institute of Medicine says, "Of all the substances of abuse (including cocaine, heroin and marijuana), alcohol produces by far the most serious neurobehavioral effects in the fetus."

Alcohol used during pregnancy can result in FASD.

An estimated 40,000 newborns each year are affected by FAS, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or have FASD, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, with damage ranging from major to subtle.

1 in 100 babies have FASD, nearly the same rate as Autism.

FASD is more prevalent than Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, SIDS, Cystic Fibrosis, and Spina Bifida combined. Alcohol use during pregnancy is the leading preventable cause of birth defects, developmental disabilities, and learning disabilities.

FASD is under-diagnosed

and often misdiagnosed as Autism or ADHD due to a lack of knowledge and the stigma of diagnosing FASD.

Maternal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of fetal brain damage and birth defects in the US.


United States Surgeon General Advisory

The most comprehensive review of alcohol and pregnancy research to date has been conducted by the Office of the Surgeon General within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General first advised women to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy in 1981, and issued a new advisory in 2005.

The advisory states in part, "Based on the current, best science available we now know the following:

  • no amount of alcohol consumption can be considered safe during pregnancy
  • alcohol can damage the embryo or fetus at any stage of pregnancy
  • damage can occur in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, even before a woman knows she is pregnant
  • the cognitive effects and behavioral problems resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure are lifelong.

For these reasons:

  • A pregnant woman should not drink alcohol during pregnancy
  • a pregnant woman who has already consumed alcohol during pregnancy should stop in order to minimize further risk
  • a woman who is considering becoming pregnant should abstain from alcohol