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