In the second decade of the 21st century it is probably fair to say that most people understand that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can seriously put the fetus at risk. Yet, despite that reality a number of women still choose to consume alcohol throughout their pregnancy. As more research is conducted every year on the effects alcohol can have on the fetus, researchers are finding that alcohol not only causes physical problems but also behavioral - problems that rear their head sometimes years down the road. A new study has shown that any alcohol consumption during pregnancy, especially during the second half of the first trimester, puts the baby at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
The study’s authors Haruna Sawada Feldman, PhD, MPH, of the University of California San Diego in La Jolla and colleagues found that for every additional drink a day on average during those early months, there were increased risks of:
- 25% for smooth philtrum
- 22% for thin vermilion
- 12% for microcephaly
- 16% for lower birth weight
- 18% for reduced birth length
The research showed that for each additional episode of binge drinking and each additional drink in the maximum number consumed per occasion also showed the same risks. Data for the study was obtained from women enrolled in the California Teratogen Information Service and Clinical Research Program from 1978 to 2005.
It is so crucial that pregnant women heed the warnings printed on alcoholic beverages. Nobody should ever think that even one drink is acceptable, there is plenty of time in life after the pregnancy to consume alcohol, if one so desires.
The findings appeared online ahead of print in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.