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'No amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe'

Drinking during pregnancy can result in a wide range of disabilities for children

Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disorders in the United States. So, each September 9 the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism holds "Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day" to remind women that drinking during pregnancy can result in a wide range of disabilities for children.

Dr. Rebecca Starck, an Ob/Gyn at Cleveland Clinic, says no amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe.

"There should be no alcohol consumption in pregnancy because we don't know the lowest threshold that can cause an effect and drinking and pregnancy can lead to something called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is one of the leading causes of mental retardation in this country." warned Starck.

Researchers with the National Institutes of Health say there is no known safe level of drinking while pregnant. Yet, 1 in 13 pregnant women report drinking in the past 30 days. Of those, 1 in 6 reports binge drinking during that time. The disabilities linked to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, or FASD, vary.

A baby's facial features may be affected, speech or language delays may develop, or other intellectual disabilities could occur. Starck agrees with "Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day"organizers who say today and every day the message is simple: pregnant women who are, who may be, or who are trying to get pregnant- should not drink alcohol.

"If you're considering getting pregnant or if you're not on anything for contraception that you should be aware that alcohol consumption, if you are pregnant, even in the early stages, can affect the pregnancy," Starck explained.

Read more from the National Institutes of Health on "Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day" and Fetal Alcohol Exposure.