I am grateful for this opportunity to share a message that I consider extremely important.
It is especially crucial for anyone who is of childbearing age. Recently in the news media there have been conflicting reports about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
I have worked for more than 28 years in the substance abuse field and have followed the advisories of our surgeon generals, publications from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other national organizations about drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
The experts in this field of study have not been able to determine a safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy and therefore recommend no alcohol consumption if you are pregnant or not using birth control.
Any type of alcohol (beer, wine or hard liquor) consumed during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
FASD is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.
Depending on the timing and frequency of maternal alcohol consumption, outcomes associated with prenatal alcohol exposure may include: brain damage, facial anomalies, growth deficiencies, defects of the heart, kidneys and liver, vision and hearing problems, hyperactivity and behavioral problems.
An important piece of information that is not widely known comes from The Institute of Medicine’s 1996 Report to Congress, which states: “Of all the substances of abuse (including cocaine, heroin and marijuana), alcohol produces by far the most serious neuro-behavioral effects in the fetus.”
The bottom line С drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause permanent brain damage.
The good news is that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are completely preventable if a woman does not consume alcohol during her pregnancy.
Research is underway to learn more about the complex effects of alcohol on a fetus. Increased understanding may lead to improvements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of FASD.
Although many questions remain unanswered, this much is clear: When a pregnant woman uses alcohol, her baby does too. That’s why abstaining from drinking throughout pregnancy and during breast-feeding is the best gift a mother can give her child С it is a gift that lasts a lifetime.
For more information visit utahfetalalcohol.org.
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