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International FASD Awareness Day: No amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe

Physicians warn pregnant women against drinking alcohol citing a possible risk of psychological and neurodevelopmental disorders in their unborn babies. The kinds of physical and intellectual difficulties that occur in children as a consequence of their mother’s alcohol consumption are classified as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Each year, on September 9 the International FASD Awareness Day is observed. This day was chosen consciously so that on the ninth day of the ninth month every year, women around the world will remember being warned about the disastrous effects of alcohol and the need to abstain from drinking while preparing to bring their child into this world.  

Many believe that a little quantity of alcohol during the gestation phase does not do much harm. But, no study has been able to indicate the exact measure of alcohol beyond which, when consumed, babies are at a risk of developing birth defects. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no amount of alcohol is safe to drink while being pregnant. In fact, there is no safe time to drink during pregnancy and definitely, no safe kind of alcohol exists that an expecting mother can consume. Debunking the myth that a little alcohol taken during pregnancy might not be harmless, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) opines that no amount of alcohol must be viewed as safe during the prenatal phase.  

Children with FASD may be afflicted with behavioral problems and learning difficulties

The hazards of drinking alcohol during pregnancy have long been discussed by researchers and medical practitioners. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy can interfere with fetal development at any stage. Though not much is known about what makes some infants more susceptible to FASDs, prior studies have attributed the same to parents’ inability to curb their alcohol consumption. As per statistics, FASD is a major preventable cause of birth disorders apart from development disabilities in America. Children suffering from FASD may be afflicted with either one or a group of maladies associated with behavior and learning.  

Though some women may crave for a drink or so during pregnancy, it is imperative for them to realize that alcohol travels through the mother’s blood into the baby’s bloodstream. The toxins in alcohol accumulate in the tissues and organs of the baby as it takes longer for alcohol to break down in babies as compared to adults. This implies that alcohol level remains constant for a longer period in the body of a baby, thus, resulting in harmful defects and sometimes, lifelong damage.  

Dangers of drinking during pregnancy

Children affected by FASD may manifest signs of behavioral and attention problems, abnormal facial shapes, stunted growth prior and after birth, reduced muscle strength and movement disorders. Other symptoms may include slurred speech, and thinking and learning problems. The problems may range from mild to severe, including acute complications such as cerebral palsy in newborns. As for women, they may experience premature deliveries, miscarriage or stillbirth.  

Paying necessary attention

In an attempt to bring down the number of children being born with FASD, scientists from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) have proposed a set of guidelines to help detect the disorder. Stressing on the guidelines published online in the journal Pediatrics in July 2016, Dr. George F. Koob, the NIAAA Director said, “These new guidelines will be a valuable resource for clinicians to accurately diagnose infants and children who were affected by alcohol exposure before birth. They represent the most data-driven diagnostic criteria for fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder produced to date.”  

Recovery roadmap

Based on community studies done by experts, an estimated 2 to 5 percent of American children manifest symptoms of FASD. The exact number of children suffering from FASD cannot be judged as doctors at times fail to recognize the subtle signs of the disorder. Implementation of necessary interventions is important as the entire country seems to be drowned in alcohol, including women. The failure to educate Americans about the intoxicating effects of alcohol can be attributed mostly to the predominance of drinking culture among them. The government has been relentless in its efforts to inform people about possible short-term and long-term impact of alcohol addiction considering the increasing mortality rate attributed to alcohol-induced disorders.

If you or your loved one is addicted to any kind of addictive substances including alcohol, you may get in touch with the 24/7 Recovery Helpline for information on the best alcohol addiction rehab centers in the U.S. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online to seek expert advice about the various treatment centers for alcohol addiction.


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