Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause your baby to have serious health conditions, called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Alcohol can also cause your baby to:
• Be born too soon (prematurely)
• Have birth defects (heart, brain and other organs)
• Have vision or hearing problems
• Be born at low birthweight
• Have intellectual disabilities
• Have learning disabilities
• Have sleeping and sucking problems
• Have speech and language delays
• Have behavioral problems
What can you do?
The earlier a child is diagnosed with FASD, the sooner interventions can begin, and the child can start making progress. Special services that can help a child with FASD include early intervention, special education, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and other services. This blog series can help you learn how to access services for babies and toddlers or children ages 3 and older.
Not all babies born with FASD will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. According to Mother-to-Baby, “There are reports of withdrawal symptoms in infants whose mothers consumed alcohol near delivery. Symptoms included tremors, increased muscle tone, restlessness and excessive crying…Once your baby is born, it is also recommended you tell your pediatrician about your alcohol use during pregnancy. Your baby can be evaluated for effects of alcohol exposure. Services and support are available for children with alcohol related problems.”
The FASD Center for Excellence has information, including screening, diagnosing, intervention programs and resources.
March of Dimes’ role
In 1973, March of Dimes grantees were the first to link drinking alcohol in pregnancy with a specific pattern of birth defects and intellectual disabilities they called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Since then grantees have continued to study how alcohol harms the developing brain, and to discover better ways to prevent and treat FASDs in alcohol-exposed babies.
Here is more information, including resources on how to quit drinking alcohol. The good news is that FASD is entirely preventable by avoiding alcohol during pregnancy.