November 23, 2009

A new study from Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research has found evidence that the amount and timing of alcohol consumption in pregnancy affects child behaviour in different ways. 
The study has just been published online in the international journal Addiction. Lead author Colleen O’Leary said the analysis was drawn from a random sample of more than 2000 mothers who completed a questionnaire three months after the baby’s delivery, and were then followed up when the child was 2, 5 and 8 years of age. 
“Mothers who reported what we would classify as heavy drinking in the first trimester of were nearly three times as likely to report that their child suffered with anxiety and/or depression or somatic complaints,” Ms O’Leary said. “Those who drank moderately during that first trimester were twice as likely to report those types of behavioural issues for their child. 
“Exposure to moderate or heavy levels of alcohol in late pregnancy increased the risk of aggressive types of behaviours in the child. “This research suggests that both the timing and the intensity of alcohol exposure in the womb affect the type of behaviour problems expressed.” 
In this study low levels of alcohol did not increase the risk of harm to the baby. However, the evidence clearly shows that the risk to the baby increases with increasing amounts consumed. “It should also be noted that in this study moderate exposure is classified as drinking 3-4 standard drinks per occasion- that’s about two normal glasses of wine-and no more than a bottle of wine drunk over a week.” Heavy drinking included women who were drinking the equivalent of more than a bottle of wine per week.
Note: I just received a letter from an adoption agency that placed one of my kids in our home for adoption, saying that their birth mother consumed 40+ ounces of alcohol a day and was addicted to cocaine during her pregnancies. She had been referred to rehabs many times but didn’t go. Why do mothers do this to their children?  This is one disability, FASD, that can be prevented. Not only can the child’s future behavior be affected by the mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy, but there can be physical and mental damage as well.