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Addiction & Children, Alcohol Addiction  |  November 09, 2017

It’s a well accepted fact that alcohol consumption during pregnancy is fraught with risks for the fetus, at times leading to what are called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders or FASDs. FASDs are health issues known to occur in some individuals whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These health problems can be physical, behavioral and/or learning in nature. Often, a person with an FASD has a mix of these problems.

Given the dangers, researchers periodically attempt to measure alcohol use among expectant mothers.

In one recent study, Svetlana Popova, Ph.D., of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada, and her co-authors conducted a meta-analysis of 24 studies that examined the health records of 1,416 children and youth diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

They found that an estimated 1 out of every 13 pregnant women who consumed alcohol while pregnant was estimated to deliver a child with FASD.

In a second recent study, researchers from the Research Society on Alcoholism wanted to know whether expecting moms tended to change their alcohol consumption patterns.

The authors of this study recruited 456 pregnant women, ages 13 to 42 years, at an urban prenatal clinic. The women (64% African-American, 36% White) were interviewed about alcohol use during pregnancy, at delivery, and again at six, 10, 14, and 16 years postpartum.

The majority of mothers (66%) were identified as having low-risk trajectories of alcohol use during the 17-year span. In other words, once pregnant, they reduced their consumption of alcohol and maintained this level of consumption during motherhood.

However, the age of the mother at first birth appears to predict one high-risk group.

Younger mothers were more likely to engage in risky drinking early in pregnancy, which continued for six to 14 years postpartum.

The authors suggest that these results might help physicians target mothers who are likely to exceed national guidelines calling for abstinence during pregnancy, and consume more than seven drinks per week during postpartum.

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