Researchers have identified more than 400 diseases that can co-occur in people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
The findings reinforce that alcohol can affect any organ or system in the developing fetus, the researchers note.
“We’ve systematically identified numerous disease conditions co-occurring with FASD, which underscores the fact that it isn’t safe to drink any amount or type of alcohol at any stage of pregnancy, despite the conflicting messages the public may hear,” lead researcher Dr. Lana Popova of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto noted in a news release.
FASD is a term that describes the range of disabilities that can occur in people as a result of alcohol exposure before birth, according to News-Medical.net.
Symptoms and their severity can vary, based on how much and when the mother consumed alcohol.
Other factors are also involved, including the mother’s stress levels, nutrition and environmental influences, the article notes. The mother’s and baby’s genetic factors, as well as their body’s ability to break down alcohol, also play a role.
The researchers reviewed previous studies and found FASD can affect the brain, vision, hearing, heart, circulation, digestion and musculoskeletal and respiratory systems, among others.
Among people with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), the most severe form of FASD, more than 90 percent had co-occurring problems with conduct. About 80 percent had communication disorders, related to either understanding or expressing language. In addition, 70 percent had developmental/cognitive disorders, and more than 50 percent had problems with hyperactivity and attention.
Among people with FAS, the frequency of hearing loss is up to 129 times higher than the general U.S. population, the researchers found. Blindness is 31 times higher, while low vision is 71 times higher.
The study appears in The Lancet.
To learn more about FASD, please click here.