Al­co­hol and preg­nancy don’t mix

Lesotho Times - - Health -

THERE is no amount of al­co­hol that is safe to drink dur­ing any trimester of preg­nancy, ad­vises a new re­port from the Amer­i­can Academy of Pae­di­atrics.

And all forms of al­co­hol — in­clud­ing beer, wine and liquor — pose a sim­i­lar risk to the de­vel­op­ing foe­tus, ac­cord­ing to the re­port from the na­tion’s largest group of pae­di­a­tri­cians.

Al­though stud­ies sug­gest that most women cut out al­co­hol com­pletely when they are ex­pect­ing, a small per­cent­age of moth­ers-to-be ad­mit that they con­tinue to con­sume al­co­hol, and an even smaller amount say they binge drink, the re­searchers in the re­port said.

Women who binge drink when they are not preg­nant may be more likely to con­sume al­co­hol dur­ing preg­nancy, the re­searchers noted in their re­port pub­lished on­line to­day (Oct. 19) in the jour­nal Pae­di­atrics.

One of the rea­sons for re­leas­ing the re­port, ti­tled “Fe­tal Al­co­hol Spec­trum Dis­or­ders,” is be­cause somere­cent re­search has been in­ter­preted as sug­gest­ing that lower lev­els of al­co­hol use might be safe dur­ing preg­nancy, said Dr. Janet F. Wil­liams, a pro­fes­sor of pe­di­atrics at the Univer­sity of Texas Health Sci­ence Cen­ter at San An­to­nio and one of the re­port’s lead au­thors.

But the pae­di­a­tri­cians’ group doesn’t agree with this re­search in­ter­pre­ta­tion, and says there’s more ev­i­dence point­ing to al­co­hol’s dan­gers in preg­ fact, there’s more than 30 years of re­search that clearly con­nects al­co­hol use dur­ing preg­nancy with birth de­fects, Wil­liams said. And as de­tec­tion meth­ods be­come in­creas­ingly more sen­si­tive, re­cent stud­ies have re­vealed the sub­tle ef­fects of pre­na­tal al­co­hol ex­po­sure, she said.

“Pre­na­tal ex­po­sure to al­co­hol is the lead­ing pre­ventable cause of birth de­fects and de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties,” Wil­liams said. Th­ese birth de­fects may af­fect the heart, kid­neys or bones, as well as hear­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

Moth­ers who con­sume al­co­hol dur­ing preg­nancy can put the fe­tus at risk of de­vel­op­ing fe­tal al­co­hol spec­trum dis­or­ders, an um­brella term for a group of con­di­tions that can cause phys­i­cal, be­hav­ioral and learn­ing prob­lems in a child.

Pre­na­tal al­co­hol ex­po­sure Fe­tal al­co­hol spec­trum dis­or­ders (FASDS) are quite preva­lent, yet doc­tors may not al­ways di­ag­nose them in chil­dren who have them, Wil­liams told Live Sci­ence. But when­ever a child ex­hibits a de­vel­op­men­tal de­lay, learn- ing prob­lems and be­hav­ioral dif­fi­cul­ties, it’s pos­si­ble that FASD is the root is­sue, she said.

More at­ten­tion has been paid to the con­di­tion called fe­tal al­co­hol syn­drome, in which chil­dren might have more vis­i­ble phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of de­vel­op­men­tal prob­lems, along with learn­ing and be­hav­ioral is­sues. In ad­di­tion to growth prob­lems, fe­tal al­co­hol syn­drome has three com­mon fa­cial fea­tures: a thin up­per lip, a smooth philtrum, or groove be­tween the nose and up­per lips, and a re­duced dis­tance be­tween an eye’s in­ner and outer cor­ner.

Al­though Wil­liams said that FASD is more dif­fi­cult for pe­di­a­tri­cians to de­tect, rec­og­niz­ing it early can im­prove a child’s long-term out­come.pre­na­tal al­co­hol ex­po­sure can pro­duce a wide range of toxic ef­fects on the de­vel­op­ing fe­tus that can al­ter brain func­tion. This can re­sult in a young child or teen who has mild to se­vere prob­lems with per­for­mance in school, at­ten­tion, mem­ory, judg­ment and lan­guage skills to name a few.

As a re­sult, women who are ex­pect­ing a baby or try­ing to be­come preg­nant should re­frain from drink­ing al­co­hol al­to­gether be- cause there is no com­pletely safe level of al­co­hol use dur­ing preg­nancy, Wil­liams said.

Still, some preg­nant women may ra­tio­nal­ize their own al­co­hol use dur­ing preg­nancy as safe be­cause it is suf­fi­ciently low or in­fre­quent, she said. If a preg­nancy is un­planned, the best ap­proach is for a woman to stop drink­ing as soon as she knows she is preg­nant, Wil­liams ad­vised.

“No al­co­hol use dur­ing preg­nancy guar­an­tees that foetal al­co­hol spec­trum dis­or­ders will not oc­cur,” Wil­liams said.

— Ya­hoo Health

All forms of al­co­hol pose a sim­i­lar risk to the de­vel­op­ing feo­tus.

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