When planning a pregnancy,
both the man and woman should immediately begin limiting alcohol consumption.
Infertility problems and birth defects are potential consequences for
those who do not. Alcohol is not a nutrient; it is a drug with direct
toxic effects to a fetus, and the parents' reproductive systems. It provides
calories, but these are 'empty calories' and can lead to undesirable weight
gain and nutrient deficiencies. In addition to the health risks for offspring,
excess alcohol consumption is associated with hypertension, obesity, stroke,
cancer, and many other health problems for the drinker.
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.
It is unclear
what dose and at what time during pregnancy alcohol causes the most
serious effects in children. FAS children have been born to binge
and chronic alcoholics alike. Further, women who drank moderately,
one drink or less per day, have given birth to infants with FAS-like
effects. Clearly, alcohol use during pregnancy is not yet established
to be safe at any level and should be avoided. As there
has been evidence suggesting some effects on psychomotor development
to breast-fed infants when mom had only "one drink" per day, alcohol
should be avoided during lactation also.
of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
or small brain size
retardation and developmental delay
hypoplasia, or incomplete development of the upper jaw bone
upper lip and flattening of the vertical groove in the middle
in the width of palpebral fissures,
the opening between eyelids