An estimated 119,000 children are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) each year. FAS encompasses a wide array of growth, mental and physical abnormalities that can occur in babies whose mothers drink alcohol during pregnancy and is often characterized by mental, behavioral and learning problems, as well as physical disabilities. This comes from a study funded by the Canadian-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). The results provide the first-ever estimates of the proportion of women who drink during pregnancy, as well as estimates of FAS by country, World Health Organization (WHO) region and worldwide.
Globally, nearly 10% of women drink alcohol during pregnancy, with wide variations by country and WHO region. In the European region, more than 45% of women consume alcohol during pregnancy. Even in the United States and Canada, both of which have clinical guidelines advising abstinence during pregnancy, an estimated 10% of pregnant women still drink, which is close to the estimated world average.
Alcohol use during pregnancy has long been established as a risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcomes including stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, premature birth, and low birth weight. FAS, considered the most severe and visibly identifiable form of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, is cause for concern. The disabilities exhibited at birth often lead to substantial secondary disabilities which can include substance abuse.
For the full study and more information, click here.