1. Health

Discuss in my forum

Drinking Through Pregnancy May Be One Cause of Autism

By March 24, 2008

In a not-very-surprising announcement, a British researcher announced that drinking while pregnant may be one cause of autism. According to this Sunday's Times UK:
The consultant psychiatrist who alerted the medical profession to the finding that drinking while pregnant can give babies a condition called foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) has now found that the consumption of alcohol by expecting mothers can also cause autism.

The research is the first to suggest that autism may be triggered by the child’s mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

What makes this announcement significant, in my opinion, is that the article goes on to say that the number of young women who do drink while pregnant is actually on the rise. In fact:
A recent survey showed 8% of women aged 18 to 24 had consumed at least 35 units of alcohol, the equivalent of about 15 glasses of wine, during the previous week. Binge drinking among young women has resulted in the number of alcohol-related deaths in women aged 35 to 54 doubling between 1991 and 2005.

Earlier this year, the British Medical Association warned that the increase in alcohol consumption by young women will be reflected in a rise in drinking during pregnancy and, subsequently, will put more babies at risk of being damaged by alcohol while in the womb.

It seems highly unlikely that an increase in autism diagnoses over decades is caused by a leap in binge drinking -- after all, prior to my own generation, women in America customarily drank through pregnancy. It is, however, disturbing to hear that quite even some cases of autism could easily be prevented simply by avoiding alcohol for a few months.
March 24, 2008 at 9:28 pm
(1) Pickel says:

Perhaps the rise in drinking is causing more fetal alcohol cases, not autism? It is possible that doctors don’t see the difference because the symptoms are so similar…

March 24, 2008 at 9:52 pm
(2) AspieMama says:

If only we all had the Aspie superpower of not drinking because of peer pressure!

It is really disturbing to hear about a rise in drinking during pregnancy. I just had a baby boy and I could never imagine doing something that might hurt him. I wonder if these women are drinking before they know they are pregnant?

Disclaimer: I know that this is a sad and serious topic and that all individuals on the autism spectrum react differently to peer pressure. I just wanted to point out a positive aspect of my experiences with Asperger’s Syndrome.


March 25, 2008 at 5:39 pm
(3) val says:

I don’t drink at all nor do I smoke.

I only occasionally have a caffeinated soda. They give me headaches.
Alcoholism does runs in my family through my mother’s side though.

March 31, 2008 at 10:36 am
(4) barb says:

I am a non-drinker. When I walk through my son’s school are they going to think that I an alcoholic? I hate these reports.

March 31, 2008 at 11:17 am
(5) Candi says:

I didn’t drink at all not a drop. I don’t think this is what caused my sons Autism.

March 31, 2008 at 11:27 am
(6) Christy says:

I didn’t drink while trying to get pregnant nor any time during pregnancy. I also didn’t eat nitrates, fish with mercury, lunch meats, caffeine or anything else the medical community cautioned about eating during pregnancy.

I think the researchers need to get back to trying to find the genetic link of autism.

It is very sad to note that drinking in pregnancy has gone up over the last few years.

March 31, 2008 at 11:29 am
(7) Destiny says:

I, for one, know for a fact I did NOT drink while pregnant. While I do believe alcohol can cause effects to the unborn fetus and has been proven to cause its own syndrome, I do not believe it is what causes autism as I know quite a few people with autistic children who never drank either. To me, this is just another person trying to explain it away by puting blame on the mother!Does that make it more comfortable for them if they can distance themselves from it? What burns me up is that the media will plaster this all over the place and then all of us are going to be judged as “alcoholics” or “drinkers” who caused our children harm. These types of things get twisted and do more harm than good!

March 31, 2008 at 11:54 am
(8) autism says:

Like most of you, I didn’t drink while pregnant. But I honestly don’t think anyone is suggesting that ALL cases of autism are caused by drinking while pregnant! It’s just one study suggesting a link in some cases.


Lisa (autism guide)

March 31, 2008 at 2:13 pm
(9) Emily Jean says:

I dont think its just alcohol, throughout my whole pregancy I did everything the doctor told me never missed an appointment, took my vitamins, had plenty of rest and exercise,healthy meals. I’ve never had a drink in my life let alone used drugs and I have a daughter who has autism. No history of it in my family as well, however her father abused drugs for years before we were together, and in
my opinion I believe his sperm was damaged, he refused to have them tested and I refuse to have another child with him. So I don’t think it’s what the woman doing while shes pregnant in all cases, I think it could be what occurs before the pregnancy as well.

March 31, 2008 at 11:59 pm
(10) sara's mom says:

I agree with Pickel; my adopted daughter whom i met when she was 2 has autism, diagnosed by the school and the state program for the disabled and a university autism clinic. Her pediatrician also suspects fetal achohol syndrome. It’s probably both: she stims and flaps but her strength is really social, altho it’s still delayed. She is able to tell how people feel even if they are trying to hide it. And while she puts people and objects in the same category, I think that she puts them both where most people put people. For instance, after returning to our car after a plane trip, she will become very excited and try to hug the car and say “Good Job, Car! Her autism isn’t typical at all and I really think she has both.

April 1, 2008 at 12:42 am
(11) Cynthia says:

I had a whole bottle of wine in early pregnancy one night because I was told the pregnancy was not viable and I was scheduled for a D&C the next day. By chance, I called one of my old doctors, and he told me the pregnancy was normal! I was worried then, and I wonder now…

April 1, 2008 at 12:25 pm
(12) Onelove says:

There are several articles on the internet from doctors that evaluate children for autism and fetal alcohol spectrum syndrome…
The Doctors advise that that similarities in FAD (not severe cases) are similar to ADS, and Doctors sometimes have a hard time distungishing between the 2 syndromes because the Mother sometimes is not truthful about drinking alcohol in her pregnacy. So there are probably children out there labeled with ASD that are actually FAD.

April 2, 2008 at 9:06 am
(13) jmsmith76 says:

This is complete garbage. I know of at least 50 mothers who have children with autism (mine included) who did not drink a drop while pregnant or breastfeeding. There may be some correlation between kids with fetal alcohol syndrome being more at risk for autism. But there will be small minded people who will turn this around and start blaming good mothers for their own children’s autism. Great. More irresponsible reporting and statistics to have to explain away to all the ignorant people who blame ME for my daughter’s condition. Thanks a lot.

April 5, 2008 at 12:06 pm
(14) Sandra Carroll says:

I absolutely NEVER had a drop to drink while I was pregnant!! Nor for years prior. I Think that this article is slanderous to all parents of autisic children!!

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.