Harvard Mental Health Letter

In Brief: Alcohol before birth: New studies

In Brief

Alcohol before birth: New studies

Two new studies suggest that drinking during pregnancy may be even riskier for the child than most people think.

In one of these studies, Italian researchers found symptoms of fetal alcohol disorder in children whose mothers may have consumed just a couple of drinks a day at certain stages of pregnancy. Screening more than 500 first-grade children, the researchers identified those who were unusually small and thin or had learning and behavior problems.

Examiners looked for unusual facial features and other physical defects typical of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), a term for milder forms of the same syndrome. The children were also tested for hyperactivity and learning disorders, and mothers and teachers answered a series of questions about their behavior.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »