April is Alcohol Awareness Month and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) has released new educational guidelines in English and Spanish. These guidelines focus on the consequences of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, specifically addressing Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). FAE outlines the symptoms of the disorder and identifies warning signs of alcohol abuse.
Pregnant women need to understand that consuming any alcohol during pregnancy is strongly discouraged. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is a leading contributor to mental retardation and birth defects. Shockingly, Fetal Alcohol Effects occur in approximately 1 in 100 live births, affecting up to 40,000 infants each year. Children with FAE often experience developmental delays and have a higher likelihood of behavioral problems such as conduct disorder, depression, and attentional disorders.
The president of AACAP, Dr. Thomas F. Anders, emphasizes the importance of pregnant women abstaining from alcohol. He explains that FAE is a completely preventable disorder and the risk is not justified. Increasing public understanding of the severe consequences of FAE is crucial in preventing this condition.
A diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is given to children who were exposed to alcohol prenatally and display facial deformities, slow growth, or neurological problems. FAS must be diagnosed by a qualified physician, such as a child and adolescent psychiatrist.
To ensure the health and well-being of both mother and child, it is vital to spread awareness about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.