Study: Risks of Drinking During Pregnancy More Serious than First Thought

Pregnant Belly

new study shows neurological problems in newborns caused by pregnant women drinking alcohol are more common than first thought, and may affect as many as 1 in 10 American children, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, evaluated several thousand children across several racial and ethnic groups, and found that more children than thought suffer from symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, including problems with memory, attention span, vision, hearing, and behavior.

Dr. Janet Williams, a pediatrician at UT Health San Antonio, who wrote a 2015 study which led to the American Academy of Pediatrics issuing its first warning about the risks of drinking during pregnancy, is far from surprised by the results of this latest study.

She blames it on 'fake news,' or the fact that today, pregnant women are more likely to go to Dr. Google for information than to their OB/GYN, and you can find information on line to support whatever behavior you want to engage in.

"You can find anything you want to find," she said.  "You can rationalize anything you want to justify."

Dr. Williams compares it to the completely debunked and dangerous 'anti-vaxxer' theory, the myth that childhood vaccines are somehow linked to autism.

"I do think with this big rush of media, people don't always understand what real research has concluded," she said.

Researchers blame several factors, including the almost daily bombardment of warnings that this behavior and that behavior is dangerous, and can cause cancer, and so on.  Also, the Journal article cites the dangers of what is called 'confirmation bias.' That's when a pregnant woman is told, oh, so and so drank wine throughout her pregnancy and her baby turned out just fine."

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