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Making Sense of Advice about Drinking During Pregnancy: Part One – The Evidence

Fear based thinking on every subject of pregnancy, labor & birth and parenting seems to be the norm these days.“Last month the Centers for Disease Control ramped up their warnings and released a new campaign to discourage any woman of reproductive age who is not on birth control to abstain from drinking any alcohol at all, along with those who are currently at any stage of pregnancy. This report was quickly met with a backlash from many avenues, questioning the recommendations, the wording and the overall message. In a two part post on this topic, Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong, Ph.D., M.P.A takes a look at what is known about the causes of fetal alcohol syndrome (Part One – today) and offers a suggestion for what the message should be to reproductive age women when it comes to alcohol consumption (Part Two on Thursday). Dr. Armstrong is the author of a book on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, where she examines the topic through the lens of a sociologist. – Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility.

To summarize what we know about the risks of alcohol exposure in utero: FAS occurs only in babies born to women who drink heavily during pregnancy (and only in a small percentage of them at that), but women who consume large amounts of alcohol over short time periods may also be at risk for having children with alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorders (Henderson et al. 2007).