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Fetal alcohol syndrome: Completely preventable

You don't have to be an alcoholic to have a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome. Among other problems, this very preventable condition can cause...

  • mental slowness
  • poor growth
  • defects of the head and face
  • behavioral problems

Binge drinking even once (five or more drinks at a time) can result in serious damage to an unborn child. And drinking any amount of beer, wine or hard liquor when you're pregnant may cause your baby to have fetal alcohol syndrome or a less severe, but still serious condition, fetal alcohol effect.

Nobody knows for sure if there is any safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy. So, the only safe amount is none!

If you've been trying to stop drinking but are having trouble, tell your doctor or other health care provider. Your health care provider isn't there to judge you. Being honest about the problem is your best chance for getting help and increasing your chances of having a healthy baby.

There are so few guarantees in life. It's good to know that staying away from alcohol is a guarantee your baby won't have fetal alcohol syndrome.


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Source: American Academy of Family Physicians; Centers for Disease Control; National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

First published: 09/05/2000
Last updated: 10/14/2007

Reviewed by: Michael Slama, MD, Allina Medical Clinic-Coon Rapids Women's Health