Consuming alcohol during pregnancy may expose your baby to the risk of 428 distinct diseases linked to Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), a new study has warned.
FASD is a broad term describing the range of disabilities that can occur in individuals as a result of alcohol exposure before birth. “The study underscores the fact that it is not safe to drink any amount or type of alcohol at any stage of pregnancy,” said lead author Lana Popova, adding that the disease conditions affect nearly every system of the body, including the brain, vision, hearing, cardiac, circulation, digestion, and musculoskeletal and respiratory systems.
The severity and symptoms of FASD vary, based on how much and when alcohol was consumed, as well as other factors such as stress levels, nutrition and environmental influences. Based on 33 studies representing 1,728 individuals with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), the most severe form of FASD, the researchers were able to conduct a series of meta-analyses to establish the frequency with which 183 disease conditions occurred. More than 90% of those with FAS had co-occurring problems with conduct. About eight in 10 had communication disorders. Seven in 10 had developmental disorders, and more than half had problems with attention and hyperactivity.
“The issue is that the underlying cause of the problem, alcohol exposure before birth, may be overlooked by the clinician and not addressed. Newborns should be screened for prenatal alcohol exposure, especially among populations at high risk,” he said.