Moderate drinking during pregnancy could be the hidden cause of thousands of serious childhood disorders including autism, Scotland's leading authority on alcohol and health warned last night. Dr Maggie Watts, vice chairman on alcohol for the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams, fears that even low levels of drinking could be related to a range of behavioural problems in young children, the cause of which has previously been a mystery.In response, Harold Doherty, in his Facing Autism in New Brunswick blog, says:
Any potential cause of autism should be examined. One recent report suggests that alcohol consumption by expectant mothers is, or may be, a factor. I find this suggestion as highly unlikely as the Television causes autism speculation but if credible evidence is found then lets see it. For now color me unconvinced, totally unconvinced. Obviously alcohol consumption by expectant mothers is unwise for a number of other serious health reasons including and especially Fetal Alcohol Syndrome but autism?Harold, I'm with you. If alcohol consumption during pregnancy caused autism, we certainly would have known about it looong before now. In fact, women of the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and even 60's - many of whom made it through pregnancy on a steady diet of martinis and scotch - would have mothered a whole generation of autistic children. And mothers of today, who live by "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and dutifully lay off the alcohol while pregnant, would have seen a tremendous DEcrease in instances of autism.
I look forward to hearing how the Scottish researchers back up their assertion - but from where I sit, it sounds pretty darned unlikely.