A recent study insists that consuming alcohol while pregnant, regardless of the actual quantity, is unacceptable.
The findings have been presented in a report and statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, published on October 19 in the Journal Pediatrics.
Medical officials seem to counter the popular belief that small quantities of alcohol during pregnancy pose no danger to fetal development. Some researchers had also claimed that consuming alcohol in low doses is virtually harmless.
For instance, a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health in 2010 showed no cognitive and behavioral disorders among infants, despite the fact that their mothers had drunk one or two drinks per week while being pregnant.
In spite of these findings, the pediatricians’ warning remains firm, since according to them such results simply indicate that among certain subjects, under specific conditions alcohol’s damaging impact may be more subtle and difficult to detect.
“The only guarantee of having no effects from alcohol is no prenatal alcohol exposure”, explained Dr. Janet Williams, professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center and study co-author.
This idea is also supported by Janni Niclasen, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Copenhagen. After closely studying the repercussions of alcohol during pregnancy, the researcher concluded that there is no safe threshold for drinking while expecting a baby.
As Professor Williams points out, under no circumstances can alcohol intake be considered inconsequential during pregnancy. Also, all types of alcohol (beer, liquor, wine etc.) are detrimental, and as a result they should be avoided entirely.
Regardless of the trimester they are in, when expectant mothers consume alcohol, even in small quantities, this produces initially undetectable, but eventually signficant damage to the child.
These far-reaching consequences include visual and motor impairment, life-long neuro-cognitive and behavioral problems, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, memory issues, deficient language skills and poor academic performance.
Although pregnant women have long been warned about these dangers, 8% of them still consume alcohol, putting their offspring at risk. This is how “completely preventable” birth defects and disorders associated with alcohol intake eventually appear, and they affect at least 5% of U.S. children.
Moreover, as researchers have revealed, almost half of all American women of childbearing age admit to having drunk alcohol beverages in the last month. This is especially alarming because some women may turn to alcohol while being unaware that they are actually pregnant.
The dangers are heightened when women indulge in binge drinking, which typically occurs when having at least 4 alcoholic drinks in around 2 hours.
However, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 33 expect mothers confess they’ve had at least one episode of binge drinking recently.
Overall, pediatricians wish to further emphasize the incalculable damage resulting from alcohol consumption while pregnant. As they insist, no matter how infrequent or reduced alcohol intake might be, its effects still resonate significantly, consisting in a wide range of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
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