An expectant mother who consumes alcohol during pregnancy exposes the baby to FASD, acronym for (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder).
FASD results in brain damage in the infant and it leads to physical defects and neurobehavioural issues.
Nine out of every 1,000 babies born in Canada have FASD and the country’s public health agency says it is the leading cause of preventable developmental disability.
The toxic substance that alcohol contains disrupts all aspects of development, especially the brain.
At every stage of pregnancy, it is recorded that there is no safe amount of alcohol intake; therefore, pregnant women are advised to avoid alcohol to save themselves and their babies a lifetime of difficulty.
Jocelyn Cook, scientific director for Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, noted that even if two women were to drink the same amount during pregnancy, one might have a child who is unaffected and another might have a child who experiences lifelong disability with FASD.
Cook, who has worked with the Canada FASD Research Network, explained that women don’t know how each fetus will react beforehand.
She said assertions that European women consume a great deal of alcohol during pregnancy is a function of the slow pace of research work in the continent.
“In Europe, they’re a little bit farther behind in terms of the research and data but they are getting there and realizing that alcohol during pregnancy is an issue. It’s all about when you get that blood alcohol level in the mom’s body up”, said Cook.
For those who are already pregnant and have had a drink or two in the first weeks of pregnancy, visit your health care provider about the risks and your concerns.
Lifestyle factors, such as having poor eating habits, stress and smoking are other activities that can increase the risk of having a child with FASD.
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