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Newborn Babies Being Tested For Alcohol After Study Shows Most Women Drink During Pregnancy

May 05, 2016 12:28 PM EDT
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Hundreds of newborn babies at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Scotland are being tested for alcohol after a pilot study revealed that 42% of women continue to consume alcohol during pregnancy. More so, 15% drink over one glass of wine a week.

Metro UK reported that the researchers are currently collecting 750 samples of meconium - the first feces of a newborn - to be sent to toxicology experts for analysis.

Consultant neonatologist Dr. Helen Mactier, who is leading the research, explains to The Herald that although alcohol molecules crosses the placenta easily, the by-products might be stuck In the placenta and get laid down in the baby's meconium. They therefore aim to look for high levels of alcohol by-products in the feces.

Aside from the samples, the study, funded by Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity, also required mothers to answer questions pertaining to their lifestyle.

Over four decades ago, the term "fetal alcohol syndrome" has been coined to describe babies born to alcoholic mothers. The disease include symptoms such as short height, low body weight, poor coordination, learning issues, behavior problems as well as issues with hearing and sight.

The findings, according to Mactier are relevant at the same time alarming because "Alcohol consumption in pregnancy is almost certainly contributing to a lot of learning disability in Scotland and learning disability is associated with poor school performance and criminality in the long term."'

While it is acceptable during 1950s for pregnant women to drink and even smoke, recent studies have shown that alcohol, no matter how much, is bad for the baby.

A study published on March 2014 shows that maternal alcohol intake prior to and during pregnancy increases risk of adverse birth outcomes such as malformations. It is specially worse in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed that no amount of alcohol in pregnancy is ever safe, stating in their report that "Neurocognitive and behavioral problems resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure are lifelong."

"The growing trend towards monitoring pregnant women, and blaming all issues that children face on their mothers' behaviour in pregnancy, is something that should concern all of us involved in women's reproductive healthcare and advocacy," a spokesperson of The British Pregnancy Advisory Service told BBC.

The study hopes to intervene and help mothers and babies as early as possible.

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