Every one of the articles I’ve read that condones light drinking does not use characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as their measure of impairment. I’ve seen ADD and ADHD used as measures of impairment associated with prenatal exposure to alcohol. Remarkably these studies didn’t show any difference between children exposed to alcohol and those that were not. Who is surprised? Not me. While some people with FAS may also have ADD or ADHD, these are not core characteristics that define the syndrome.
I saw one study that measured balance as an indicator of brain damage from prenatal exposure. That was interesting. I’d never seen balance listed as a core disability characteristic. It isn’t.
The latest bogus study on the impact of social drinking on the developing fetus used IQ as their measurement. While heavy drinking and binge drinking may impair IQ, it is not a core disability characteristic. While working in the field of FAS, I met several people with IQ’s in the 120’s and a full FAS diagnosis. One of the main activities of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Family Resource Institute was to teach caregivers, criminal justice personnel and educators to recognize what FAS looks like in individuals with a normal IQ.
I’ve listed the core disability characteristics of FAS on my advocacy page. Here is the short version. For a longer explanation, click on the FAS and Advocacy button.
1) Failure to learn from cause and effect.
2) Inability to consistently use rules of right and wrong
3) Impaired judgment and reasoning
4) Emotional volatility and burnout
5) Vulnerable to co-occurring conditions such as depression, OCD, bipolar etc.
6) Individuals with FAS don’t get the nuances of society.
Drs. Sterling Clarren and Ann Streissguth had an extensive list of systems that were vulnerable to prenatal exposure to alcohol. These systems were generally time and dosage sensitive. To pull one item off of such a list and use it as your measure for determining whether someone has brain damage due to prenatal exposure to alcohol is just not valid research.
In order to determine if social drinking can be harmful to the developing fetus a researcher needs to measure a core disability characteristic or replicate Ann Streisguths’s study using reading, math and spelling scores as an indicator. The better studies are going to look at more than one characteristic. It is easy to test for the number of trials it takes for someone to learn a cause and effect task. I can see tests set up to easily measure whether a child consistently obeys rules of right and wrong or whether they are completely influenced by the examples of others. Actually, this would be a fun test, but alas, those who have an agenda to justify their own alcohol use or to sell alcohol don’t test for the core disability characteristics of FAS.
Bottom line: If you want your child to be healthy and reach their full potential, no amount of alcohol is safe.