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Effects on the child of alcohol abuse during pregnancy. Retrospective and prospective studies.


Retrospective and prospective investigations of children to alcoholic women gave an incidence of fetal alcohol lesion of one per 300 deliveries of whom half had the complete fetal alcohol syndrome. Perinatal and infant mortalities were increased seven to tenfold and low birth weight (less than or equal to 2 500 g), preterm deliveries (less than 37 weeks) and smallness for gestational age (less than -2 S.D.) were increased eightfold, threefold and twelvefold, respectively. Small size at birth correlated with reduced mental performance later in life, 58% had IQ below 85 and 19% below 70.8% had cerebral palsy. The incidence of cerebral palsy associated with maternal inebriety was 1/5 000 deliveries, i.e. every sixth case of cerebral palsy. Tracing of alcoholic women during pregnancy and treatment gave favourable effect on intrauterine growth when sobriety could be induced early in pregnancy but could not protect from functional brain disturbance measured by neurological performance and be evoked response electroencephalography. Damage to the fetus by alcohol is now the largest known health hazard by a noxious agent that is preventable.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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