Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix.  No one knows exactly what potential harmful effects even the smallest amount of alcohol has on a developing baby.

All public health officials in the United States recommend that pregnant women, as well as women who are trying to conceive, play it safe by steering clear of alcohol entirely. So do experts at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologistsand the American Academy of Pediatrics.

When you drink, the alcohol quickly travels through your bloodstream, crosses the placenta, and reaches your baby. Your baby breaks down alcohol more slowly than you do, so she may end up with higher levels of blood alcohol than you have.

Drinking endangers your growing baby in a number of ways: It increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. As little as one drink a day can raise the odds for having a baby with a low birth weight and raise your child’s risk for having problems with learning, speech, attention span, language, and hyperactivity.

Cognitive issues, such as low IQ may result in personal, health and social issues for the individual.  Mothers who drink alcohol put their babies at a dramatically increased risk for these issues – prenatal alcohol exposure is often missed.

? Stool Study

One of the most reliable direct biological markers of prenatal exposure to alcohol in the term newborn is elevated fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs), formed via esterification of alcohol with endogenous free fatty acids.

The newborns’ first stool (meconium) was analyzed for FAEE levels in 216 babies at birth, and measurements were taken on these children at later stages in their young lives.

This study’s purpose was to determine if there indeed was a connection between FAEE levels and cognitive development during childhood and adolescents.

? Findings + Conclusions

FAEE levels of 216 babies were measured at birth.  An intelligence test was then performed at age 9, 11 and 15. Results showed a link between those with high FAEE levels at birth and lower future IQ scores.  Therefore, high levels of FAEE may give clues to clinicians that a child is at risk for future cognitive difficulties.

? Reference

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18492517