There is no guesswork here: no amount of alcohol is safe for pregnant women.

This is the verdict of a new clinical report titled “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders” from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued Oct. 19 in the journal Pediatrics.

The report concluded that there is no safe trimester to drink alcohol, similar risk ensues from beer or liquor, and that binge drinking – typically more than four drinks in one sitting – poses dose-based risk to the developing fetus.

The standard should be no drinking at all while pregnant, stated the report, since alcohol-related birth defects and abnormalities are “completely preventable” when a pregnant woman abstains from alcohol intake.

The report analyzed fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), which covers milder issues such as hyperactivity and attention and learning problems, as well as serious birth defects stemming from fetal alcohol syndrome.

“Neurocognitive and behavioral problems resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure are lifelong,” warned the report, adding that early recognition, diagnosis, and therapy for any condition caused by FASD can improve numbers and outcomes.

The report also acknowledged that it is a broad range of problems at hand, making it difficult to determine exact number of affected children, which ranges up to 5 percent at present. Educating the public about the link between alcohol and the more subtle health issues in children is also hard to do, it added.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that 1 in 10 women reported drinking some alcohol during pregnancy, while 1 in 33 admitted to binge drinking. Those who drank while pregnant were more probably older than age 35, unmarried, and with a college degree.

A separate commentary on the report argued that it is unfair for pregnant women to forego the drink as much as foregoing “driving, working, and eating junk food” during their term. The AAP report is dubbed a “two-dimensional decree,” with the piece calling for a more intricate look at the issue and to trust women to make their own decisions.

Among the reasons for the release of the report, according to study author and pediatrics professor Dr. Janet F. Williams of the University of Texas Health Science Center, is that there is recent research interpreted as suggesting that lower alcohol levels during pregnancy might be safe and all right.

Dr. Williams and her group do not agree with this interpretation, pointing to the dangers of alcohol during pregnancy.

There’s over three decades of data connecting alcohol intake while pregnant and birth defects, she added, saying that more recent studies are quick to reveal the subtle effects of prenatal exposure to the substance.

Photo: Torsten Mangner | Flickr

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