Morning Mix


Drinking alcohol while pregnant causes higher risk of birth defects in babies

Posted at 12:05 PM, Jan 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-20 12:05:30-05

When one thinks about a birth defect they may not realize that there are choices individuals can make to help prevent certain conditions in their newborn children.

Dr. Caleb Bupp, a medical geneticist from Spectrum Health, explains fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and how they can be prevented.

A birth defect is an abnormal condition that can happen before or after a baby is born. Birth defects can be minor, like an extra finger or toe, or they can be more serious, like a congenital heart defect.

Every pregnancy has about a 2-3 percent chance of happening, no matter what. However, some birth defects can be predicted based on family history or genetic causes.

Some birth defects are preventable, and the choices a mother makes during her pregnancy can help reduce the risk of birth defects in her child. One of these ways is to not drink alcohol during pregnancy.

By not drinking alcohol, a mother can prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. FASDs can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning abilities, or a combination of cognitive and physical problems.

Dr. Bupp says there's really no safe amount to drink during a pregnancy. Some women could drink once and have children with issues, while others could drink much more and their children don't have issues at all.

Spectrum Health has an FASD clinic where patients can do a physical assessment to look for potential defects. While there is no medicine to treat FASDs, Spectrum Health can provide patients with resources, direction, and connections on how to work with their children.

Referrals are required to be seen in the clinic. For questions on referrals or for further information, call (616) 391-2319.