What is fetal alcohol syndrome?

Updated: Nov 27, 2018
  • Author: Warren Thompson, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Answer

With regard to pregnancy, fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading known cause of mental retardation (1 in 1000 births). More than 2000 infants annually are born with this condition in the United States. Alcohol-related birth defects and neurodevelopmental problems are estimated to be 3 times higher. Even small amounts of alcohol consumption may be risky in pregnancy. A 2001 study by Sood et al reported that children aged 6-7 years whose mothers consumed alcohol even in small amounts had more behavioral problems. [18] In a study from 2003, Baer et al showed that moderate alcohol consumption while pregnant resulted in a higher incidence of offspring problem drinking at age 21 years, even after controlling for family history and other environmental factors. [19] All women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should avoid alcohol.


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