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How Much Minnesota Moms-to-Be Should Drink: Not a Drop

PHOTO: The consumption of alcohol during pregnancy is one of the leading preventable causes of birth defects and childhood disabilities. Photo credit: Bruna Carvalho/Flickr.
PHOTO: The consumption of alcohol during pregnancy is one of the leading preventable causes of birth defects and childhood disabilities. Photo credit: Bruna Carvalho/Flickr.
January 5, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - It is completely preventable, but there will be some 40,000 babies born in the United States this year, including several thousand in Minnesota, diagnosed with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The severity of the health issues related to maternal alcohol use depends on the timing and frequency of consumption, which should be not a single drop, says Sara Messelt, executive director with the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

"It's really important because so many pregnancies are unplanned," says Messelt. "You see the importance of really primary prevention and educating all women who are or could become pregnant that there's no safe level of alcohol."

Some cases are from women drinking before they realize they've become pregnant, while others believe it won't harm their babies. Messelt says there are also those mothers-to-be who struggle with addiction.

"It's not just that simple to say, 'Well, just don't drink when you're pregnant' because they're dealing with issues related to addiction that might make that much more challenging," says Messelt. "So we need to provide specific recovery and support services for women that fall into that camp."

It is estimated about one percent of children nationwide have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or other alcohol-related birth defects. The effects can include abnormal facial features, growth deficiencies and permanent brain damage.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN