How can fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) be prevented?

Using alcohol during pregnancy is the leading cause of preventable birth defects, developmental disabilities, and learning disabilities. The only way to prevent FAS is for a woman to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages during pregnancy.

Women should also not drink alcohol if they are sexually active and not using effective birth control. It can take 4 to 6 weeks before a woman knows she is pregnant, during which time a developing fetus could be exposed to alcohol.

If a woman has already consumed alcohol during pregnancy, it is never too late to stop. Brain growth in the fetus takes place throughout pregnancy, so stopping alcohol consumption as soon as possible is always better than not stopping at all.

Lastly, once the baby is born a mother should not drink alcohol during the entire period in which she is breastfeeding. This is because alcohol will appear in breast milk. Although this is not directly linked to FASDs, alcohol in breast milk can hurt a child’s development and cause problems with sleep and learning.

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