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University of Colorado Denver

Colorado Area Health Education Center, University of Colorado Denver
 

Colorado Fetal Alcohol and Other Prenatal Substance Abuse Prevention

Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)?

FASD describes a group of physical, mental and behavioral problems that can happen if a woman drinks during pregnancy. It is a descriptive term that indicates a spectrum of affects.  It is not a diagnostic term.

What is the difference between FASD and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)?

FASD is an umbrella term describing the range of birth defects caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy.  Individuals struggling with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder may be diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND), Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD), Alcohol-Related Birth Injury (ARBI) or Partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS).

Is it okay to drink a little during pregnancy as long as I do not drink hard liquor?

No.  There is no safe level of alcohol you can drink during pregnancy.

Why is drinking alcohol while I am pregnant such a bad thing?

If you drink alcohol while you are pregnant, your baby does too, and this can hurt your baby’s brain, heart, kidneys and other organs. Then your baby could be born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

What is “one drink?”

One drink equals a 12-ounce beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor.  Some drinks, like wine coolers or malt or mixed drinks, may have more alcohol.

I drank before I knew I was pregnant.  What should I do now?

It is never too late to stop.  The sooner you stop drinking, the better it will be for both you and your baby.  Get regular prenatal checkups and tell your doctor or nurse you have been drinking so they can give you tips on what to do.

What if I am not planning to have a baby yet?

A lot of women do not plan on getting pregnant.  But it happens — every day. Most women do not know they are pregnant until they have missed at least one or two periods.  Women who drink alcohol and do not use birth control when they have sex may get pregnant and expose their baby to alcohol before they know they are pregnant.

If I drank when I was pregnant, does that mean my baby will have a FASD?

It is not always easy to tell if a newborn baby has an FASD.  Alcohol can affect unborn babies in different ways.  Even if a baby does not have all the problems of FAS, the baby may be born with other problems if the mother drinks alcohol while she is pregnant, such as trouble learning or behaving.

Is there a cure for FASD?

No, these problems do not go away. They last a lifetime.

How can I prevent FASD?

Do not drink alcohol if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.  If you think you might be pregnant, stop drinking now. Do not wait until you know for sure that you are pregnant.  If you have trouble stopping drinking, ask for help from a professional and use effective birth control so you do not get pregnant until you can stop drinking.  Decreasing the amount and the frequency of drinking decreases harm to the baby.  There is no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.

What if I need help to stop drinking?

Quitting drinking may be very difficult, but there is help available.  You can get free help from people who know what you are going through. There are also many alcohol treatment centers.  Even if you have tried to stop drinking before, try again.  Do not give up. Call our Personal DECISIONS line at        1-888-724-3273 for more information on how we can help.

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