(11/16/2011)
Submitted by Jean Simers

The holiday season is a time to enjoy family and friends. Sometimes there is that holiday toast involved. If you are pregnant, think you're pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, think again about that drink.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the name given to a pattern of physical and mental birth defects caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is one of the leading preventable causes of mental retardation in the United States. About 8,000 infants are born with FAS in the United States each year or approximately 2 out of every 1,000 births.

Researchers have not yet identified a safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The safest choice is not to drink at all when you're pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

A beer, a glass of wine, a wine cooler, a mixed drink and a shot of liquor all contain the same amount of alcohol. They are equally dangerous to your baby.

As soon as you suspect you might be pregnant, stop drinking alcohol immediately. Your chances of having a healthy baby are greatly increased when you stop drinking.

The most serious effect of alcohol is on the unborn baby's developing brain. As a result, most people with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome have below average intelligence. Children with FAS have trouble listening, learning and paying attention. They can have emotional problems, behavioral problems, and poor judgment. They often need special help at home and in school.

Because people with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can have problems all their lives, they may always need special help, even as adults. FAS cannot be cured or outgrown. An early diagnosis, appropriate educational interventions, and other help from people who understand their needs all increase the chances that a person with FAS will succeed in society.

If you know someone who is pregnant, encourage her not to drink alcohol and tell her why. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is 100% preventable by not drinking.


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