The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a new clinical report in the November issue of Pediatrics emphasizing that no amount of alcohol should be considered safe to drink during any trimester of pregnancy due to the risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).

FASDs can include fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), partial fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD), alcohol-related neurodevelopment disorder (ARND), and neurobehavioural disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure (ND-PAE). Prenatal alcohol exposure is frequently linked to structural or functional effects on the brain, heart, bones and spine, kidneys, vision and hearing and is associated with a higher incidence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and specific learning disabilities such as difficulties with mathematics and language, visual-spatial functioning, impaired impulse control, information processing, memory skills, problem solving, abstract reasoning, and auditory comprehension. However, a lack of uniformly accepted diagnostic criteria for FASDs has hindered efforts that could reduce the impact of FASD, the authors noted.

RELATED: 10% of Women Consume Alcohol While Pregnant Despite Risks

Previous research has indicated that about 50% of all women of childbearing age in the United States have consumed alcohol within the past month and nearly 8% have reported to continued to consume alcohol during pregnancy. Even when a pregnant woman’s consumption was limited to one alcoholic drink per day, an increased risk of infant growth retardation has been identified with alcohol consumption in pregnancy. Compared to no drinking, first-trimester drinking can increase the risk of giving birth to a child with FASDs twelve-fold.

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“The research suggests that the smartest choice for women who are pregnant is to just abstain from alcohol completely,” said Janet F. Williams, MD, FAAP, one of the report’s lead authors.

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