The Dangers of Drinking for Two: Alcohol and Birth Defects
Alcohol and Pregnancy Don't Mix
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
- Abnormal facial features, including abnormalities of the eyes, nose, and lip areas
- Lower than normal height and weight
- Central nervous system (CNS) problems, such as small head size, or poor coordination
Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), Alcohol-related Neurodevelopment Disorder (ARND), and Alcohol-related Birth Defects (ARBD)
In the past, FAE was generally used to describe children who did not have all of the clinical signs of FAS, but who had problems with behavior and learning and whose mother drank alcohol while pregnant. In 1996, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) proposed the terms ARND and ARBD.
ARND describes the functional or mental impairments linked to prenatal alcohol exposure, such as behavioral or cognitive abnormalities including learning difficulties, poor school performance, poor impulse control, and problems with mathematical skills, memory, attention, and/or judgment.
ARBD describes malformations of the skeletal system and major organ systems, such as defects of the heart, kidneys, bones, and/or auditory system. Children with ARBD might have all or some of these.
Common Questions About Alcohol and Pregnancy
How are birth defects caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy?
Does drinking during pregnancy always result in FAS?
How much alcohol is reasonably acceptable to drink without running the risk of a child developing FAS?
Is FAS hereditary or is there a hereditary disposition to getting it?
Can FAS be treated? How?
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism http://www.niaaa.nih.gov
National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) http://www.nofas.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org
A 2005 message to women from the U.S. Surgeon General. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/documents/sg-advisory.pdf. Accessed October 13, 2014.
Alcohol and drugs. March of Dimes website. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/alcohol-during-pregnancy.aspx. Updated July 2012. Accessed October 13, 2014.
Alcohol use in pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/alcohol-use.html. Updated April 17, 2014. Accessed October 13, 2014.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chronic/Pages/Fetal-Alcohol-Spectrum-Disorders.aspx. Updated October 6, 2014. Accessed October 13, 2014.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 30, 2013. Accessed October 13, 2014.
Where we stand: alcohol during pregnancy. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/Pages/Where-We-Stand-Alcohol-During-Pregnacy.aspx. Updated July 18, 2014. Accessed October 13, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2014 -
- Update Date: 10/14/2014 -