Dr Maggie Watts, vice chairman on alcohol for the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams, suggests that moderate drinking during pregnancy could be “the hidden cause” of autism, attention deficity hyperactive disorder (ADHD), and other neurodevelopmental disorders in children. In particular, Dr. Watts makes the point that some children who have Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder(FASD) may be “misdiagnosed” with autism or a neurodevelopmental disorder; she notes that up to one in 100 Scots children – as many as 9,000 – could be suffering from FASD, whose symptoms include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. Notes the November 18th The Scotsman:
Official advice from Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer states that it is safest if no alcohol is consumed during pregnancy. However, controversial draft guidance from the health watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, states that after the first three months of pregnancy, women can consume up to 1.5 units per day.
Last week a review of existing research, conducted by Oxford University, found “no convincing evidence” that binge-drinking could harm the foetus.
Yet a recent study on low-level drinking by scientists at Bristol University found that women having as little as one drink per week had children with mental health problems.
Susan Fleischer, founder of the National Organisation on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, said: “It is our experience that children are diagnosed with things like autism or attention deficit disorder before they get a diagnosis of foetal alcohol syndrome. A lot of children are misdiagnosed.”
It is thought that alcohol crosses the placenta and that the fetus is not able to process the alcohol: While alcohol is cleared from the mother’s body in twelve hours, a fetus is “is exposed for up to 72 hours because it does not have a properly developed liver.”For the record, this theory of autism causation is not the cause of my son being autistic: I drank no alcohol, and no coffee or anything with caffeine it in, throughout my pregnancy and during the thirteen months that I breastfed Charlie. In fact, I was scrupulous in following the suggestions of the doctor and the baby books for what to eat, etc., while expecting; a friend’s mother noted the same of her.