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Health Watch: Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant Debate

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Drinking alcohol has been a big taboo for moms-to-be. But a growing number of pregnant women are shunning the “no drinking” policy, and the new research is backing them up. 3 On Your Side Medical Reporter Stephanie Stahl explains.

April Peveteaux prides herself on being a good mom. But what April did during her pregnancy is what sets her apart, and is stirring up controversy.

“I would have an occasional glass of wine or a beer, which some people frowned upon. It was completely fine, and had zero affect on either one of my children,” said April

It’s recommended women don’t drink alcohol while pregnant. But a new study shows babies born to light drinkers, those who had a glass of wine about five ounces or about 16 ounces of beer a week, had no added risk of emotional or behavioral problems.

“It may or may not be okay. The reality is we just don’t know if it’s okay, and how much you can drink during pregnancy and have a normal development outcome,” said Dr. Mary O’Connor, an expert in the field. She says it’s how you break down alcohol that’s important.

“If you’re a slow metabolizer your child is in more danger because it takes longer for the alcohol to leave the woman’s system. You might be the lucky one that gets away with it, or you might be the unlucky who lives with a child with a developmental disability.

“If anyone came here for a day and saw Alex, they would understand why it’s not okay to drink” said Joeli Gutfleisch, Alex’s mother.

Joeli and her husband, Greg Gutfleisch, adopted Alex when he was eight months old. Now at seven, Alex has been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome.

“A lot of these children don’t understand cause and effect. They don’t have good judgment, poor impulse control, so it’s heart breaking. It didn’t have to happen. It makes me angry, and I feel people are ignorant. And I don’t understand why somebody would risk the development of their own child with one drink,” said Joeli.

About 40,000 babies are born every year with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. It’s the leading cause of mental retardation.


Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Information

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Information

Reported By: Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

More from Stephanie Stahl
  • Pictures of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

    Long time lurker. Just wanted to let you know that your category selector is broken.

  • mommy22

    A “good” mom doesn’t take that risk. Period. April- your 2 children were lucky so you think. But what if it affects them down the road. FAS doesn’t present itself until years later. What a horribly selfish decision– to risk your child’s health because you want a glass of wine or beer. WOW. Just wow.

  • Mom2

    There are so many things that can go wrong during a pregnacy that you can’t contol the out come, why would anyone do something to their child that could hurt them that they as a parent can control. If a mother can’t go 9 months without drinking for their babies health, maybe they need to contact AA because their seems to be issues with alcohol. Bottom line alcohol is a drug just like crack, cocaine and tobacco. I have two children and NEVER drank during with pregnancy, because it’s the right thing to do. As a parent your childs needs come first, yours second. I guess some people just shouldn’t have chiildren.

  • Anita Xanthos Nicolaides

    FAS is a preventable tragedy. It’s heartbreaking to see a child with FAS struggling to fit in and not being able to lead a normal life. If having a baby is the most precious gift a woman can give….she can abstain from alcohol and allow that child the opportunity to start their life normally.

  • Dave

    I am a RN and I will tell you that it is NOT okay to drink alcohol during pregnancy. Period. I can tell you stories where mom said they just had “one drink” and their child now has to go to a special school or ca’t go to school at all. I have seen the children of alcoholics and they would make you cry – one kid I saw had eyes where his cheeks were supposed to be and was born with half a jawbone. Yes there are stories of people drinking alcohol and their babies are “just fine”. The problem is that you don’t know that the baby is “just fine” when it’s born. The effects of alcohol during pregnancy may not be seen until many years later, even adulthood. So why would any responsible mother risk it?

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