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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Older Pregnant Women Who Drink Alcohol: Higher Risk

There has always been danger associated with older women who get pregnant; the older you get, the greater the chance of possible birth defects arising. This is especially the case if the expecting woman decides to consume alcohol during the pregnancy. A new study found that older pregnant women may actually be more likely to drink more alcohol during pregnancy, and when they do, they may have a greater risk of the drug negatively affecting their children than a younger pregnant woman. There were 462 children examined in the study as well as the drug use among their mothers. Mothers who had been binge drinking during pregnancy had children who scored very low on performance tests and had a higher risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder or fetal alcohol syndrome than those children of younger mothers who had partaken in similar activities during their pregnancy.

The study points out that there may be other mitigating factors involved in why children of older mothers are more susceptible. It may have to do with older women processing alcohol in their systems in a different way than younger women, as one gets older alcohol has varying effects on the mind and body, the longer one has been drinking the greater the chance that the alcohol will find its way to the fetus. "This finding may be due to older moms drinking for longer periods, greater alcohol tolerance, and having more alcohol-related health problems — all leading to higher levels of alcohol in their fetuses", says Lisa Chiodo, an author of the study. "It has also been suggested that changes in body size, metabolism or composition, or number of births, which are all related to maternal age, may be factors increasing the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure".

The study dealt primarily with "inner-city women" who were in low economic standing. There is speculation that the results would have been different if it had encompassed a wider socioeconomic group. Some of the mothers in the study had also used illicit drugs, which definitely had some factor on the development of the baby - but that is hard to say. We know that everyone is different and age certainly has an effect on pregnancy, but, why one child is born with FASD and another isn't even though both mothers drank the same amount is not clear at this point.

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