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Maternal Alcohol Use to Impact Thousands of Texas Babies This Year

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

AUSTIN, Texas - It is completely preventable, but there will be some 40,000 babies born in the United States this year, including around 4,000 in Texas, 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 professor of pediatrics Dr. Frederick Palmer from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center says should be not a single drop.

"If you don't drink while pregnant, you cannot have a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or any effects of alcohol, and that's a fairly open-and-shut case," he says.

It is estimated about one-percent of children nationwide have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or other alcohol-related birth defects.

Palmer says some cases are from women drinking before they realize they've become pregnant, while others believe it won't harm their babies or some women struggle with addiction. The effects on the babies can include abnormal facial features, growth deficiencies and permanent brain damage.

"These range from what is to a physician a readily identifiable Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to much milder problems, including maybe just cognitive problems or maybe just problems in school learning," he says.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX