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Keywords:

  • Fetal alcohol syndrome;
  • growth retardation;
  • psychomotor retardation;
  • mental retardation;
  • cerebral palsy;
  • incidence;
  • evoked response electroencephalography

Abstract. Olegård, R., Sabel, K.-G., Aronsson, M., Sandin, B., Johansson, P. R. Carlsson, C., Kyllerman, M., Iversen, K. and Hrbek, A. (Departments of Paediatrics, East Hospital, University of Göteborg and Psychiatric Clinic II and Nordhem Alcoholic Clinic, Lillhagen Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden). Effect on the child of alcohol abuse during pregnancy. Retrospective and prospective studies. Retrospective and prospective investigations of children to alcoholic women gave an incidence of fetal alcohol lesion of one per 300 deliveries of whom half had the complete fetal alcohol syndrome. Perinatal and infant mortalities were increased seven to tenfold and low birth weight (<2500 g), preterm deliveries (<37 weeks) and smallness for gestational age (<-2 S.D.) were increased eightfold, threefold and twelvefold, respectively. Small size at birth correlated with reduced mental performance later in life, 58% had IQ below 85 and 19% below 70. 8% had cerebral palsy. The incidence of cerebral palsy associated with maternal inebriety was 1/5000 deliveries, i.e. every sixth case of cerebral palsy. Tracing of alcoholic women during pregnancy and treatment gave favourable effect on intrauterine growth when sobriety could be induced early in pregnancy but could not protect from functional brain disturbance measured by neurological performance and by evoked response electroencephalography. Damage to the fetus by alcohol is now the largest known health hazard by a noxious agent that is preventable.