A review of the literature reveals that:
* FAS only occurs in babies whose mothers habitually consume alcohol
excessivelyduring pregnancy, at a level of 50-60gper day.
* The diagnosis of FAS (and that of foetal alcohol effects) is
confounded by other factors common to these women, such as nutrition,
the ingestion of drugs-including caffeine and nicotine,her age,education,ethnicity,
genetic, marital, parity and socio-economic status.
* FAS does not occur in babies born to women who consume alcohol
at between 10 - 20g per day during pregnancy.The majority of the
literature does not support the 'no threshold theory' that any
amount of alcohol will have a harmful effect on the foetus.
* Effects such as reduced growth may occur in utero, but not post
partum, in babies whose mothers consume above 20- 30g daily.
* The critical period of exposure to alcohol is in the first trimester.
The incidence of FAS is also extremely small; in Australia, only
1.6% of the 20% of women who drink while pregnant, consume excessively
and continually.The incidence of FAS is less than 0.1/10,000 live
births; in the USA the incidence is 0.9/10,000 and in Europe approximately
20 times less than in the USA.
* The 'at risk' groups in all countries or populations are the
minority groups with a lower socio-economic status, such as Native
Americans, Native Australians and African Americans.
The literature clearly demonstrates that there are identifiable 'at
risk' groups that behave significantly differently to the 'not
at risk' groups, whose amount and pattern of alcohol consumption
is consistent during pregnancy. It is these 'at risk' groups rather
than the population per se that should be educated by their community
health-care centres, medics, gynaegolgists and pediatricans.