The Arc Responds to New Report on Alcohol Intake During Pregnancy

Washington, DC – The Arc is concerned about new research released earlier this week from Denmark stating that drinking low to moderate levels of alcohol during early pregnancy will cause no ill effects to children. The Arc’s over 700 chapters have a long history of raising awareness, educating and providing training to their communities about the dangers of drinking while pregnant. Unfortunately, studies like this serve to minimize alcohol’s severe effects on an unborn baby, placing doubt in the minds of mothers about the actual risk of drinking while pregnant. When studies are released that suggest alcohol intake can be safe during pregnancy, The Arc takes the opportunity to speak up and educate the public about the very real dangers of drinking while pregnant.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) describe the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects can include physical, behavioral, mental and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. FASD affects an estimated 40,000 infants each year – more than Spina Bifida, Down Syndrome and Muscular Dystrophy combined.

“Why put your baby at risk? Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are 100% preventable if mothers abstain from drinking during pregnancy. The Arc advocates not drinking during pregnancy, and will continue to push this message because studies like this ignore the fact that completely abstaining takes the risk of having a baby with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder off the table,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

As other opponents of the study highlighted, there are a number of factors that weren’t taken into consideration that warrant the public’s attention. These include the fact that some developmental delays are not detected as young as 5 years old, the differences in metabolism amongst women, and variances in genetic susceptibility.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with I/DD, including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 700 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

The Arc, together with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Center for Excellence, recruits and supports the Self-Advocates with FASD in Action (or SAFA) Network. SAFA was established a little over a year ago to build and support a network of people with FASDs and give them the platform to be self-advocates.