Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Twice As Prevalent As Originally Thought

Fetal alcohol syndrome is worse than scientists originally thought, and according to a new study, the mother’s binge drinking is largely to blame.

The findings come from research done on more than 1,400 first graders. The Argus Leader‘s Jon Walker explains.

“The study by Sanford Research and several affiliates indicates that alcohol harms 2 percent to 5 percent of children before birth, resulting in educational and psychological challenges they may carry for life.

“The results come from examining first-graders, most 6 or 7 years old, at 32… elementary schools and interviewing their mothers about their habits during pregnancy.”

“This is probably twice the rate that had been predicted previously,” said Dr. Gene Hoyme, Sanford Research’s clinical geneticist and president. “But the studies that had been done previously didn’t look for the complete continuum of kids being affected. They looked only for the most severely affected kids.”

While the fetal alcohol study was confined to the Sioux Falls area, Hoyme did not believe that the city was “unique.”

“Sioux Falls is the first community in the United States to have this kind of study done. My guess is we’ll find Sioux Falls is pretty much like everywhere else.”

Again, the biggest influencer was binge drinking prior to the child’s birth.

“We found… that mothers of these children tended to be weekend bingers rather than chronic alcoholic women and that the alcohol use was regardless of race or socio-economic background…. If the mother’s drunk, the baby’s drunk as well. The alcohol goes from the mother’s blood through the placenta to the baby. In the baby it will kill developing brain cells.”

This is particularly concerning for researchers because they fear that women who do not regularly drink or feel they have an alcohol problem because of these “isolated” incidents may have a false sense of security and not realize what is driving learning disabilities in their children.

What do you think, readers? Do you believe the results in Sioux Falls are indicative of the nation as a whole, and what should be done to raise more awareness for fetal alcohol syndrome? Sound off in our comments section.

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