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When a mother-to-be drinks, her baby drinks.  Alcohol in the mother’s blood is passed directly to the fetus through the umbilical cord.  At present, physicians cannot determine the precise moment when a specific biological system such as the nervous system is most affected by alcohol consumption.  That’s why the medical profession recommends no alcohol consumption when pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

According to the CDC, alcohol use during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).  FASDs are physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that last a lifetime.  These disorders are preventable if the baby is not exposed to alcohol, including wine and beer, before birth.

FASDs include a range of conditions that can affect a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.  These effects can appear differently in each person and can move along a spectrum of mild to severe.  To assist in the diagnosis and treatment of FASDs, they have been divided into four groups based on the type of symptoms.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) 

FAS represents the most severe of the FASDs, with fetal death being the most extreme. Individuals with FAS may have physical abnormalities or problems related to the central nervous system.  These people have a hard time in school because of learning, memory, or attention span difficulties.  A person with FAS may have issues with communicating, seeing or hearing.  These individuals may have trouble getting along with others.

Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND)

ARND includes intellectual and learning disabilities, and behavioral problems that may result in difficulties in school.  They may experience problems in judgment and impulse control.  These individuals may have issues with memory and attention.

Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD): 

Congenital disabilities related to heart, kidneys, bones, or hearing can occur in infants whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy.  People with ARBD may have one or more of these disabilities.

Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE)

ND-PAE became a recognized disorder in 2013.  Children with this disorder demonstrate problems in three areas:

  • Thinking and memory, such as planning and recall
  • Behavior problems, such as severe tantrums and mood swings
  • Day-to-day living, such as bathing, dressing and playing with others

Typically, the mother consumed more than 13 alcoholic drinks in a 30-day period of her pregnancy or more than two alcoholic drinks at one time.

According to 2011-2012 data, 17.9% of women between the ages of 18 and 44 drank in the first three months of pregnancy.  The percentages dropped to 4.2 in the second trimester and to 3.7 in the third.  A small percentage continued to binge drink during pregnancy. 

Remember, it is never too late to stop drinking during pregnancy.  If you are interested in seeking treatment, contact us.