for your health
is Birth Defects
ONE OUT OF every 33 babies in the U.S.
—about one every four and a half minutes—is born with a birth defect, including heart defects, cleft palate, spina
bifida and Down syndrome. Birth defects
are the leading cause of infant deaths,
accounting for one out of five. Babies
born with defects have a greater chance
of illness and long-term disability.
Some but not all birth defects can
be prevented. Some are increasing
in prevalence for unknown reasons.
More research is needed.
The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention offer these guidelines to prepare for a healthy pregnancy outcome.
• Take folic acid every day, starting
at least one month before and
throughout the pregnancy.
• Don’t drink alcohol during
• Don’t smoke.
• Don’t use street drugs.
alcohol: A toxic
By Susan Rose
DID YOU KNOW that if
a pregnant woman drinks
alcohol during pregnancy
it can cause permanent
disabilities in her unborn
baby? These birth defects
are called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
(FASDs). These disabilities are not always
evident at birth and sometimes take years to
Pregnant women should choose alcohol-free options to reduce the risk to their unborn
babies and ring in a happy new year.
Test your own knowledge about pregnancy and alcohol with these six questions.
• Check with a healthcare provider
before taking any medications or
getting any vaccinations.
• Prevent infections.
• Keep diabetes under control.
• Reach and maintain a healthy
• See your healthcare provider
For more information about birth
defects, or to learn how you might
make a difference, visit the National
Birth Defects Prevention Network
( www.nbdpn.org).—David Wight
ANGELA WAYE / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
Which is more dangerous to an unborn
child: beer, wine, hard liquor, spiked
eggnog or mixed drinks?
There is no difference because they are all
dangerous during pregnancy. A 12-ounce
can of beer has as much alcohol as a 5-ounce
glass of wine or a 1-ounce shot of liquor. One
mixed drink can contain from one to three or
more standard liquors. In other words, alcohol is alcohol and all kinds should be avoided.
Why is FASD considered to be a
Children, teens and adults who have
FASDs may appear to be normal and healthy.
Consequently, many people with FASD are
often under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Understandably, people (such as teachers and
employers) may have unrealistic expectations
PIOTR MARCINSKI/ SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
How many women do not know they
are pregnant for the ;rst six weeks?
Why should women avoid alcohol if
they are trying to get pregnant?
An astounding 50 percent of women have
no signs of pregnancy during the first six
weeks of fetal development. During the first
trimester, binge drinking (defined as four
drinks of alcohol for women on one occasion)
is particularly harmful to the fetus. Therefore,
any woman planning a pregnancy should
avoid drinking alcohol.
What are some of the signs of FASD?
People who have FASD can show a
wide range of intellectual and/or physical
problems. Intellectual and behavioral
signs of FASD include poor memory, poor
impulse control, poor judgment, learning disabilities and lower IQ.
Tablet or smartphone?
You can watch a video about
birth-defects prevention in
our digital newsstand and
What is the prevalence of fetal alcohol
Every year in the United States, one
in 100 babies is born with the disorder as a
result of even moderate in utero exposure to
Why take the risk?
During pregnancy, the best drink is
no drink at all. The U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention and the U.S. Surgeon
General both warn that there is no known safe
amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant.
For more information on FASD, visit
Costco member Susan Rose is president of
the FAS Support Network of New York City
and Long Island. ( www.fassn.org).