The Dangers of Drinking During Pregnancy
Of course drinking during pregnancy isn’t safe! In fact, according to a new study done by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are on the rise. The study, which is set to be published next month in Pediatrics , attributes this to women drinking during pregnancy.
The study found that anywhere between 2.4% and 4.8% of children are born with some form of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. This translates to roughly one in every twenty children.
That’s a surprisingly high number. Why the sudden increase? Are women drinking during pregnancy in higher numbers than ever before? Has this been occurring for quite some time and researchers are just now learning the truth?
Drinking While Pregnant Facts
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, also known as FASDs, are a range of disorders related to women drinking during pregnancy. The disorders can vary from severe to mild.
On the severe end, there’s Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is caused by excessive drinking during pregnancy. Characteristics include abnormal facial features, poor coordination, low weight, behavioral and cognitive issues, learning disabilities, low IQ, and organ damage.
There’s also Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder, or ARND for short. ARND, also caused by drinking during pregnancy, is a milder form of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Its symptoms include mental disability and poor cognition.
Finally, there’s Alcohol-Related Birth Defects, or ARBD for short. These are, as the name suggests, birth defects related to excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
Those three FASDs are severe and life changing. On the milder end, individual symptoms of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may manifest themselves. For example, after drinking while pregnant, a mother may notice her child exhibits behavioral issues, or is born at an abnormally low weight.
These milder types of FASDs are what the recent University of North Carolina study found.
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Statistics about Drinking During Pregnancy
The recent study, led by Philip May, concluded that drinking during pregnancy actually isn’t on the rise.
May, and his team of researchers, picked a nationally representative town and conducted behavioral and cognitive tests on many of the town’s children.
They found that anywhere between eleven and seventeen children, per each 1,000, exhibited Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder symptoms. They also found between six and nine children, again out of each 1,000, had severe Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
While these numbers are higher than in prior research, that may be because of the arduous methods used in the study. It appears that drinking while pregnant isn’t rising, but rather our research methods are getting better.
What sets this study apart from others is not only its rigorous research methods, but also its identification of other factors which may influence FASDs. These include a woman’s alcohol intake in the three months before pregnancy and the amount of alcohol the child’s father drinks.
How Long Have Women Been Drinking While Pregnant?
Drinking during pregnancy isn’t anything new. As far back as ancient times, women would drink wine to mitigate the uncomfortable parts of their pregnancy. However, as we’ve learned the damaging effects alcohol can have on a developing fetus, this attitude has changed.
We now know that drinking during pregnancy isn’t a good idea. Still, there are contradictory messages being spread about just how much it affects developing children. An Illinois newspaper spoke to Dr. Lana Popova, a scientist and professor at the University of Toronto. Dr. Popova said the following –
“First and foremost, women are receiving mixed messages about alcohol use during pregnancy through their family or friends, health care providers and public health campaigns” (WREX 13 HealthDay News).
Dr. Popova went on to say –
“Alcohol is a neurotoxin, and alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of birth defects and intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities. So why is it worth experimenting with your child?” (WREX 13 HealthDay News).
Do you know someone who can’t stop drinking, even while pregnant? Lighthouse Recovery Institute can help.
We offer Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment, so our patients can focus on what’s important while in treatment and begin living healthy and successful lives.
Call Lighthouse today at 1-844-I-CAN-CHANGE or 1-(561)-381-0015 to learn more about the importance of gender-specific substance abuse treatment.
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