Posts Tagged ‘FAS’

Thinking of having a baby? Now is the time to stop drinking alcohol

Monday, April 4th, 2016

2015D015_3603_rtYou’ve probably heard that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby. But did you know you should also stop drinking alcohol before trying to conceive?

It can be difficult to determine an accurate date of conception. It takes two weeks after conception to get an accurate pregnancy test result. This means that you may be drinking alcoholic beverages during the early stages of your pregnancy, before you learn you are pregnant.

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a range of serious problems including miscarriage, premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and stillbirth. The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) states that alcohol use during pregnancy is the leading preventable cause of birth defects, developmental disabilities, and learning disabilities.

FASDs can be costly, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The lifetime cost for one individual with FAS in 2002 was estimated to be $2 million. This is an average for people with FAS and does not include data on people with other FASDs. People with severe problems, such as profound intellectual disability, have much higher costs. It is estimated that the cost to the United States for FAS alone is over $4 billion annually.

The good news is that FASD is entirely preventable. If you stop drinking alcohol before and during pregnancy, you can prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and other conditions caused by alcohol.

So if you are trying to become pregnant or are already pregnant, steer clear of alcohol. If you have problems stopping, visit us for tips.

If you have a child with FASD, see our post on how to help babies born with FASD.

Have questions? Send them to

Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

no-alcoholToday’s guest post is from Dr. Siobhan Dolan, an OBGYN, medical advisor to the March of Dimes, and author of Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.

Tomorrow I will drop my eldest daughter at college.  It is an amazing rite of passage and I hope she is happy in the next few years, making lots of friends and striving to reach her intellectual potential.

I don’t know a mother who doesn’t feel the way I do – that they would do anything to make life better for their child.

So as an obstetrician gynecologist, I am continually surprised when women ask me if it is okay to have a glass of wine during pregnancy.

The answer is really NO.

We know that alcohol is a neurotoxicant that affects the developing brain.  When consumed in excess during pregnancy, alcohol crosses the placenta and affects the fetus.  It has been clearly associated with a constellation of physical, mental and behavior problem in babies called fetal alcohol syndrome.  In fact, alcohol use during pregnancy is the leading preventable cause of intellectual disability.

We think of fetal alcohol syndrome along a spectrum, with smaller amounts of alcohol having a small effect and larger amounts having a more profound effect.  This is called a dose-response relationship and it has been demonstrated with regard to alcohol use in pregnancy.  So why would you drink even a small amount of alcohol and impart a small risk to your developing fetus?

Each woman is different in how she metabolizes alcohol, based on genetics and metabolism, and thus there is no way to establish a safe level of alcohol for every woman.  Therefore, March of Dimes is clear that there is no safe level of alcohol intake that can assure no effect.

So let’s use common sense along with science – avoid alcohol if planning a pregnancy and most certainly cut it out entirely once pregnant.  I think parents and doctors can agree that the benefits of a glass of wine are minimal at best and so the risk is just not worth it.

For more information about Dr. Dolan’s book, Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby, click on this link.

Physical defects in fetal alcohol syndrome

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Many people have heard that mental retardation, emotional and learning problems are associated with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). But physical defects involving the heart, face and other organs also exist. The most severe of the effects caused by drinking during pregnancy involve a combination of physical and mental birth defects.

Although many women are aware that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects, many do not realize that moderate or even light drinking also may harm the fetus. A study, published online in Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2012 Jan 17, is the first of its kind to compare patterns of alcohol exposure and physical defects.

Researchers analyzed data from 992 pregnant women with a history of alcohol consumption during pregnancy who had enrolled in a study in California. Data on exposure were collected at enrollment and every 3 months during pregnancy. A physical examination of all infants was performed by a dysmorphologist (a clinical geneticist specializing in abnormal physical development) who knew nothing of the prenatal history regarding each baby. Patterns of each mother’s drinking were evaluated by drinks per day, number of binge episodes, and maximum number of drinks. Timing of exposure to alcohol was evaluated at 0 to 6 weeks postconception, 6 to 12 weeks postconception, first trimester, second trimester, and third trimester.

This study revealed that reduced birth length and weight, microcephaly (abnormal smallness of the head), a smooth philtrum (groove in the middle of the upper lip), and a thin vermillion border (the line between red lips and pale skin of the face) are associated with specific gestational timing of prenatal alcohol exposure. These were all dose-related effects and there was no safe amount detected beyond which a defect could occur. Bottom line: There is no safe amount of alcohol a pregnant woman can consume. Even a small amount can cause an impact.

The authors of this study feel that this data indicates a need to continue to advise women to abstain from drinking alcohol from conception throughout pregnancy.

Partying without the booze

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

drinksSpring break, woohoo!!!  Have a hot time but, if you’re pregnant or want to be, cool it with the booze. April is Alcohol Awareness Month so it’s time to remind ourselves that there is no safe amount of alcohol we can consume during pregnancy.  Want one more summer of regular margaritas and mojitos?  Then wait til the fall before you start thinking of baby.

Although many women are aware that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects like fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), many do not realize that moderate or even light drinking also may harm a developing baby. The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women do not drink any alcohol, including beer, wine, wine coolers and liquor, throughout their pregnancy and while nursing. And, because women often don’t know they’re pregnant for a few months, women who may be pregnant or those who are attempting to become pregnant should not drink alcohol.

But if you’re hoping there’s a baby in your future, you can still hit the beach and have a good time at a party. I thought I’d resurrect a few great recipes for non-alcoholic drinks that are fun and yummy.  Read our post on bodacious beverages and cocktails anyone?  There are some great tips and comments.