In 1973, two U.S. physicians discovered a correlation between a mother’s consumption of alcohol during pregnancy and pre-and post-natal growth deficiencies, minor facial abnormalities, and damage to a child’s developing brain – damage that can result in behavioral, learning, and cognitive abnormalities. They found that the more alcohol a woman consumed during pregnancy and breastfeeding – the greater the effect on the child.
The syndrome they discovered? Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
Here is what we know about alcohol and its effects:
- Even small amounts of alcohol cross from the mother through the placenta and into the baby during pregnancy.
- Alcohol also passes from the mother to the child during breastfeeding.
- Exposure to alcohol in the womb contributes to low birth weights, mild to severe brain damage, and changes in facial structure.
- Early alcohol exposure often leads to learning disabilities, poor academic achievement, poor organization, lack of inhibition, difficulty writing or drawing, balance problems, and attention and hyperactivity problems.
- Children with FAS can also experience these issues:
- Hearing and ear problems
- Mouth, teeth, and facial problems
- Weak immune system
- Liver damage
- Kidney and heart defects
- Height and weight issues
- Hormonal disorders
How big a problem is FAS?
It’s hard to know precisely. What we do know is this: statistics show that 55% of U.S. women in their prime childbearing years (18-44) consume alcohol (the percentage varies by state. Utah has the lowest levels at 30.4%. The District of Columbia has the highest levels at 72.7%) and that 18% of the women in this group are defined as binge drinkers. Statistics from the CDC put the problem of FAS as affecting some 40,000 infants annually.
Addiction to alcohol does not have to be a life sentence for women or their babies. There are treatment options that offer women addicted to drugs and/or alcohol the chance to lead full and healthy lives – free from addiction. And a healthy mom means a healthy baby.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and need help in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, or Indiana, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. And we come to you, regardless of where you live. Our unique in-home treatment model of care gives clients a significantly better chance of recovery compared to traditional inpatient rehab care. Please get in touch with one of our Recovery Specialists to learn more.