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Baby Your Baby: Why should moms avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy?

Baby Your Baby - Avoiding Alcohol During Pregnancy
Baby Your Baby - Avoiding Alcohol During Pregnancy
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With International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day coming up on September 9th, the Utah Department of Health wants to remind women how important it is to avoid alcohol during their 9 months of pregnancy. Most pregnant women have probably heard they shouldn’t drink alcohol during pregnancy, but you may not know why.

What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are a range or “spectrum” of birth defects and developmental delays caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy. The spectrum of birth defects can include changes to your baby’s facial features clear to heart defects, and many other problems in between. Developmental delays from FASD can also include learning disabilities, as well as problems with abstract thinking and judgement. It costs about $2 million in additional costs to address the problems someone on the severe end of the FASD spectrum faces throughout his or her lifetime.

Is there a cure for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

No, there is no cure. Babies born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder have lifelong problems and are more likely to have problems in school. People with FASD are also more likely to be incarcerated as an adult and need someone to help care for them for the rest of their lives.

Is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder common in Utah?

Our last survey results show about 3% of pregnant women said they were still drinking alcohol in their 3rd trimester. That means about 1,400 babies in Utah are at risk for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder each year. We don’t have information about the first trimester, when birth defects usually happen. It’s hard to get good, accurate information about how many women use alcohol use during pregnancy, so we don’t really know how many babies are on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder range; and sometimes it takes years to diagnose problems related to FASD.

How can I prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

The easiest thing you can do to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is not drink alcohol at all when you’re pregnant or while you’re trying to become pregnant. Some drinking patterns are worse than others and put your baby more at risk, like drinking alcohol every day and binge drinking. Binge drinking is when you drink a lot of alcohol at one time.

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If you or your healthcare provider have questions about alcohol in pregnancy or how to reduce your risk of FASD, you can contact us through