PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Doctors haven't identified a safe level of alcohol that a pregnant woman can consume. But experts do know that FAS is completely preventable if women don't drink alcohol during pregnancy.
These guidelines can help prevent fetal alcohol syndrome:
- Don't drink alcohol if you're trying to get pregnant, because your baby's brain, heart and blood vessels begin to develop in the early weeks of pregnancy, before you may know you're pregnant. If you haven't already stopped drinking, stop as soon as you know you're pregnant or if you even think you might be pregnant. It's never too late to stop drinking during your pregnancy, but the sooner you stop, the better it is for your baby.
- Continue to avoid alcohol throughout your pregnancy. Fetal alcohol syndrome is completely preventable in children whose mothers don't drink during pregnancy.
- Consider giving up alcohol during your childbearing years if you're sexually active and you're having unprotected sex. Many pregnancies are unplanned, and damage can occur in the earliest weeks of pregnancy.
- If you have an alcohol problem, get help before you get pregnant. Get professional help to determine your level of dependence on alcohol and to develop a treatment plan.
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/documents/FASD_english_spanish.pdf. Accessed March 30, 2011.
- Bailey BA, et al. Pregnancy and alcohol use: Evidence and recommendations for prenatal care. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2008;51:436.
- Drinking alcohol during pregnancy. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/alcohol_indepth.html. Accessed March 30, 2011.
- Effects of alcohol on a fetus. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//SMA07-4255/SMA07-4255.pdf. Accessed March 30, 2011.
- Burd L, et al. Diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: A validity study of the fetal alcohol syndrome checklist. Alcohol. 2010;44:605.
- Understanding fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Getting a diagnosis. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. http://fasdcenter.samhsa.gov/documents/WYNKDiagnosis_5_colorJA_new.pdf. Accessed March 30, 2011.