Alcohol and Pregnancy

Prenant mother drinking 2Alcohol and Pregnancy: The Long-Term Consequences

Now, there’s more evidence of the dangers of heavy drinking while pregnant. New research shows that children whose mothers drank while pregnant had abnormal brain development patterns years after being exposed to alcohol in the womb.

The study is the first to follow children over time using magnetic resonance imaging technology to look at how heavy alcohol exposure before birth interferes with brain growth in childhood and adolescence.

The findings suggest that children with heavy alcohol exposure may have decreased brain plasticity—the brain’s ability to grow and remodel itself based on experience with the outside world.

Such adaptation continues throughout tone’s life and is crucial to learning new skills and adapting to the environment.

During normal development, brain volume increases rapidly at a young age as new neural connections form and then decrease in certain regions during adolescence as underused brain connections are cleared away to increase efficiency. While children whose mothers didn’t drink showed this pattern of robust brain growth and reduction, children with heavy exposure to alcohol showed patterns of static growth.

Among the 70 children in the study who had been heavily exposed to alcohol in utero (13 drinks per week throughout the pregnancy, on average), lack of growth was most obvious in the rear portions of the brain—particularly in the parietal cortex, which is thought to be involved in selective attention and the production of planned movement.

From; NIAAA Spectrum Volume 5, Issue 1 | February 2013. American National Institutes of Health • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

| http://www.spectrum.niaaa.nih.gov

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome series: Mysterious clues led to FAS diagnosis

Baby with the FAS-syndrome.
Image via Wikipedia

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome series: Mysterious clues led to FAS diagnosis.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): A term widely adopted in 2003 to describe all alcohol-related disorders, including FAS, pFAS and ARND.

Behaviours associated with FASD include – Poor executive functioning, which may include difficulty planning, organizing, prioritizing and following through with tasks, being on time and sticking to a schedule.

- Impulsivity and may be over-reaction to stimulating environments.

- Often repeating the same mistakes because they don’t learn from past behaviours.

- Poor memory or an inconsistent memory, which is hard for teachers to understand because they might perform well on Monday but forget on Tuesday. Math and science are hard subjects to grasp, money management is a challenge.

- Frequent inability unable to make decisions or understand risks. While they often have good expressive skills, their receptive skills are weak so while they are nodding and pretending they understand, they might not. Often will say what he or she thinks you want to hear, thinks more slowly, gets “stuck” in rigid behaviour and has trouble changing gears stepping from one activity and starting another.

- Often functioning developmentally — socially, emotionally and cognitively — at half their chronological age. Tend to mature and “catch up” as much as they are going to by age 35, so will need support.

Source: Diane V. Malbin, Asante Centre

 

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Mysterious+clues+diagnosis/3928233/story.html#ixzz17UdnsPTp

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum and Epilepsy

fasface 3Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder linked to high prevalence of epilepsy

Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) show a very high prevalence of developing epilepsy and having seizures, according to a national study by Queen’s University researchers.

Six per cent of study participants had epilepsy and 12 percent had one or more seizures in their lifetimes. By comparison, less than one percent of the general population is expected to develop epilepsy. The study results also showed that individuals were more likely to have epilepsy, or a history of seizures, if exposure to alcohol had occurred in the first trimester or throughout the entire pregnancy.

“There are very few studies that have examined the relationship between seizures and epilepsy among individuals with FASD,” says study co-author James Reynolds, a pharmacology, toxicology and neuroscience researcher at Queen’s University. “The consensus recommendation of scientists, clinicians, and public health officials around the world is very clear—a woman should abstain from drinking during pregnancy as part of an overall program of good prenatal health care that includes good nutrition, adequate exercise, and sufficient rest.”

Researchers examined the histories of 425 individuals between the ages of two and 49 years from two FASD clinics. They compared risk factors such as the level of exposure to alcohol or other drugs, type of birth, and trauma with the co-occurrence of epilepsy or a history of seizures in participants with confirmed FASD diagnoses. The report builds on a growing body of evidence that maternal drinking during pregnancy may put a child at greater risk for an even wider variety of neurologic and behavioral health problems than thought before.

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The study results will appear in the June issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The research team included St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Alberta, University of Toronto, and the Toronto Western Research Institute. The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

From a press release at EurekAlert.

Drop in Alaskan Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Alaska’s fetal alcohol syndrome rate fell 32 percent between 1996-2002

During that time, the rate among Alaska Native births dropped by half
(Anchorage, AK) — Alaska Native babies were born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) half as often around the year 2000 as they were five to seven years earlier, Department of Health and Social Services researchers found in an analysis of Alaska Birth Defects Registry data. That change brought the state’s overall rate from 1996 to 2002 down by a third, researchers reported in the State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin released yesterday.

“This reduction is what we’ve been striving for, and continue to strive for,” said Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Hogan. “FAS and other conditions collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are one of the most common causes of developmental disabilities and the only cause that is entirely preventable.”

In 1998, Alaska and three other states with high rates of maternal alcohol consumption were selected for a four-year project through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The project developed a system to track birth defects caused by maternal drinking, and established by 2002 that Alaska’s rate was far higher than the other three states; the highest in the nation.

The analysis found the rate among Alaska Native births decreased to 32.4 children with FAS per 10,000 live births from 63.1 (down 49 percent); the rate increased from 3.7 to 6.1 among non-Native births (not a statistically significant change.) Alaska’s overall rate dropped to 13.5 from 20.0. The analysis ends with births in 2002 in order to incorporate doctors’ reports of suspected birth defects caused by maternal drinking. Doctors have until children are 6 to make that mandatory report.

A major joint federal-state prevention and education effort ran from 1991 to 1996, with a second running from 1998 to 2006, said L. Diane Casto, manager of Prevention and Early Intervention Services for the Division of Behavioral Health.

“We can’t absolutely link the decrease to our prevention efforts, but the timing strongly suggests that it was a major factor,” Casto said. “This is clear encouragement that we can change these statistics which represent so much lost potential and needless heartbreak.”

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Janine Schoellhorn, the state public health epidemiologist who led the analysis, said the Alaska Native rate was 17 times higher than the non-Native rate in the first group of children, those born in 1996 through 1998; for those born in 2000 through 2002, the Native rate was down to five times higher.

“That’s really, really impressive,” Schoellhorn said. An analysis of data from 2003 forward is underway.

The State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin is posted online at http://www.epi.alaska.gov/bulletins/catlist.jsp?cattype=Fetal+Alcohol+Syndrome+(FAS)

Alcohol Reduces Birth Rates

Man and a pregnant woman uid 1180696 Alcohol Use Hinders In-Vitro Fertilization, Study Finds

Research summary

The odds of achieving a live birth through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) fell by 26 percent if either sex partner consumed four or more alcoholic drinks weekly, according to a new study.

Time magazine reported Oct. 27, 2009 that a study of more than 2,500 couples attempting IVF found that success rates fell by 16 percent if women drank and 14 percent if men drank. Wine seemed to affect IVF success the most among women, while beer drinking had the biggest negative impact among men.

Study lead author Brooke Rossi, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said the research showed that even moderate drinking could impair IVF.

"There are many factors in an IVF cycle that contribute to success or failure. Most of these, patients have no control over, like age. But one thing you can control is alcohol intake," said Rossi. "You can decrease or stop alcohol consumption, knowing that you are going to have to do it anyway if you do get pregnant and it may increase the chances of success in IVF cycle."

The findings were presented at a recent meeting of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.

From Join Together Online.

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy by Mayo Clinic

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are 100% Preventable

FASDs are 100% preventable if a woman doesn’t drink alcohol while she is pregnant.

Learn more about the cause, signs, and treatments and what you can do if you think your child might have an FASD.

The Story of Iyal

This video tells the story of one family living with FASDs. Every family has unique experiences, challenges, and successes. The intent of this video is not to endorse specific interventions, but to share one family’s story and hope.

 

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning. Often, a person with an FASD has a mix of these problems.

Read more about FASDs:

Cause and Prevention

FASDs are caused by a woman drinking alcohol during pregnancy. There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe to drink while pregnant. There is also no safe time to drink during pregnancy and no safe kind of alcohol to drink while pregnant.

Full story at; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Best I Can Be: Living with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome-Effects (Revised) (Mom’s Choice Awards Recipient) by Jodee Kulp
Finding Perspective… Raising Successful Children Affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders by Liz Lawryk