Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, (FAS) or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, (FASDs)

Alcohol Use During Pregnancy

• There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant.

• There is no safe time during pregnancy to drink and no safe kind of alcohol.

Women also shouldn’t drink alcohol if they are planning to become pregnant or are sexually active and do not use effective birth control, because a woman could become pregnant and not know for several weeks or more and in the United States half of all pregnancies are unplanned.

FASDs are 100% preventable. If a woman doesn’t drink alcohol while she is pregnant, her child cannot have an FASD.

How is Alcohol Dangerous?

You have heard this many time, but it doesn’t diminish its truth: “When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her unborn baby”.

Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes through the placenta to the baby through the umbilical cord. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong disorders, known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Children with FASDs might have the following characteristics and behaviors:

• Abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip (this ridge is called the philtrum)
• Small head size
• Shorter-than-average height
• Low body weight
• Poor coordination
• Hyperactive behavior
• Difficulty paying attention
• Poor memory
• Difficulty in school (especially with math)
• Learning disabilities
• Speech and language delays
• Intellectual disability or low IQ
• Poor reasoning and judgment skills
• Sleep and sucking problems as a baby
• Vision or hearing problems
• Problems with the heart, kidney, or bones

When Alcohol is Dangerous
There is no known safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy can cause the baby to have abnormal facial features. Growth and central nervous system problems (e.g., low birthweight, behavioral problems) can occur from drinking alcohol anytime during pregnancy. The baby’s brain is developing throughout pregnancy and can be damaged at any time.

If a woman is drinking alcohol during pregnancy, it is never too late to stop. The sooner a woman stops drinking, the better it will be for both her baby and herself.

Get Help!

If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant and cannot stop drinking, get help! Contact your doctor, local Alcoholics Anonymous, or local alcohol treatment center.

Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a treatment facility locator. This locator helps people find drug and alcohol treatment programs in their area.

Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.)
Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. Locate an A.A. program near you.

* Many thanks to the CDC for this data

DISCLAIMER: None of the information contained here should be considered medical advice. Alcohol and other drug detoxification should be done under medical and/or professional supervision. At the first sign of alcohol or drug withdrawal sysmpoms or discomfort, immediately seek medical advice. Do not attempt to detox from alcohol or other drugs without proper medical supervision. If you feel that you have a medical emergency, call 911 and seek local advice.

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