CDC report says fetal alcohol syndrome not just caused by heavy-drinking momsNews added by Benefits Pro on February 5, 2016

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By Jack Craver

Fetal alcohol syndrome is not an illness that only affects the children of those suffering from severe alcoholism.

It is in fact a disorder that could affect millions of babies whose mothers drink during the early phases of pregnancy, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control.

“More than 3 million US women are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, having sex, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy,” said the report released by the agency.

That means that many women are drinking in the weeks following conception, when they often don’t know they are pregnant.

That is obviously often the case for the roughly 50 percent of pregnancies that are unplanned, but the report also found that it is often the case for women who are seeking to get pregnant.

The survey found that 75 percent of women who report wanting to get pregnant “as soon as possible” say they have not stopped drinking.

As a result, the agency estimates that about 5 percent of children today suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition that the report calls “100 percent preventable.”

Heavy drinking by pregnant women also increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Fetal alcohol syndrome typically leads to low birth weight, problems of vital organs, such as the kidney, heart and, most importantly, the brain.

The effects on the brain are linked to a number of intellectual and behavioral disabilities, including low IQ, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and “poor reasoning and judgment skills,” according to the report.

Alcohol consumption during pregnancies costs the U.S. $5.5 billion a year, according to a CDC estimate from 2010.

The report calls on medical providers to do more screening of women of child-bearing age on their drinking habits. Health care professionals should counsel women who are having sex without contraception to stop drinking.

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