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Experts Corner

Nutrition

Alcohol Effects
By Mediconsult's Nutrition Services

Q. How does alcohol affect my baby?

A. The affects of alcohol on the developing fetus are likely two-fold. It is believed that there are both direct toxic effects, as well as accompanying nutrient deficiencies. Both contribute to the negative outcomes of pregnancy. The full effects of alcohol use during pregnancy was first described in 1973 and were collectively named Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). The characteristics of FAS are described below and include defects of the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and brain in addition to growth failure. FAS causes permanent disabilities in offspring.

Characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Intrauterine growth retardation

  • Microcephaly, or small brain size

  • Mental retardation and developmental delay

  • Maxillary hypoplasia, or incomplete development of the upper jaw bone

  • Thin upper lip and flattening of the vertical groove in the middle portion

  • Cardiac abnormalities

  • Reduction in the width of palpebral fissures, the opening between eyelids

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