People know that drinking alcohol is not advisable for pregnant women. It can lead to a number of physical and neurodevelopmental anomalies in their babies. However, many mothers still attempt to go with some glass of liquor. More than just about the temporary pleasure, they also believe small amounts of alcohol won't do any harm.
But according to a new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, prenatal exposure to alcohol leads to various birth defects and mental disabilities in newborns. The group insists that no amount of alcohol is considered safe for babies during prenatal development.
In the paper, the authors write that fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDS) covers all birth defects resulting from the mother's act of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Exposure to liquors has various effects on the baby's brain, heart, bones, and other organs. Intellectual disabilities may also include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), difficulties in numbers, language, balance, communication, abstract reasoning, and comprehension. All of these defects will remain all throughout the child's life, but may be improved through early diagnosis and therapy. However, diagnostic criteria of FASD are quite specific and are limited at present to just few of all birth defects.
"Even though fetal alcoholic spectrum disorders are the most commonly identifiable causes of developmental delays and intellectual disabilities, they remain significantly under-recognized," says principal author Janet F. Williams, MD, FAAP, as quoted in the press release.
Despite these risks, the data gathered from surveys in the current study still show that about 50 percent of pregnant women in the United States have consumed alcohol within the past month, and about eight percent reported that they continued doing so.
Previous research has found that even if pregnant women limit their alcohol consumption to one drink a day - equivalent to 1.5 ounce shot of distilled spirits, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer - there is still a high risk that infants involved will develop defects. Moreover, drinking during the first trimester, as compared to no drinking, will result to 12 times the odds of giving birth to a child; 61 times if drinking is prevalent in the first two trimesters; and 65 times if mothers drink all throughout the course of pregnancy.
With all these findings, researchers suggest nothing but one thing: "Pregnant women should abstain from alcohol completely."
The study appears in the journal Pediatrics.