Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may cause ADHD behavior problems in children later in life.
This news item has shown up many times in national publications and broadcast briefs in the past year. It seems to me that this just points out that experts consider alcohol ingestion during pregnancy as a cause of future ADHD behavior to be a very important topic-one deserving of the public being often reminded.
No one knows just how much alcohol a pregnant woman can drink before her growing baby suffers direct damage to his or her developing nervous system. It may be as little as one drink or as much as one drink a day, but there is no doubt that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can affect a developing baby’s brain and nervous system and potential for normal physical growth and development.
It appears that alcohol consumed during pregnancy causes direct damage to the parts of the brain and to nerves that help a child concentrate, make decisions, store memories, and co-ordinate muscles to work with everything else.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the term we use to describe the effects of alcohol on a developing fetus.
So, it’s no surprise that children and teens exposed to alcohol during pregnancy might have problems focusing on task, may be inattentive, be poorly organized, be unable to remember studies, and show poor co-ordination. Many of these kids will have impulsive and disruptive behaviors because their higher brain functions-decision making capabilities are damaged and they are slow to perceive clues that normally would make most of us delay or altogether decide against a particular action.
As a result of this decreased ability to reason and the lack of restraint, FAS children may get up and wander around the classroom, blurt-out answers out of turn, and appear hyper and out of control. FAS teens might have multiple legal problems-speeding tickets, illegal or legal drug abuse-and experiment in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex.
Alcohol ingestion during pregnancy might just be the reason a child makes poor grades or has bad behavior at school or at the mall…Both behaviors found in children with ADHD!
All of this sounds a lot like ADHD behavior-doesn’t it?
Then, it won’t surprise you to discover that fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the things that can produce ADHD-like behaviors that can mimic ADHD, causing ADHD misdiagnosis.
That’s right…Just having a few beers, a couple of glasses of wine, a mixed drink or taking an alcohol containing medicine (e.g. cough syrup) during pregnancy may cause an unborn child to have ADHD behavior symptoms at as young as age tree years or at any point through adolescence and young adult life.
These ADHD behaviors could result in that child being wrongfully diagnosed as ADHD, mislabeled as ADHD, and inappropriately treated with ADHD drugs instead of being treated for what is really wrong-fetal alcohol syndrome!
ADHD experts and childhood developmental physicians advise pregnant women to completely avoid use of alcohol as soon as they suspect they’re pregnant. As I noted above, even the use of alcohol containing mouthwashes, cough syrups and cold medications might cause FAS, leading to future behavior and learning problems.
If you suspect a child might have a mild form of FAS, please discuss your concerns with your child’s family doctor or pediatrician as soon as possible. Using multidisciplinary behavior training and learning training techniques, specialists may be able to help such a child learn how to focus and better learn and remember and how to better control unwanted behavior.
Here are a couple of links you might want to take a look at:
What Every Woman Should Know about Alcohol and Pregnancy
Alcohol During Pregnancy: How Dangerous Is It Really?
Here are previous posts dealing with fetal alcohol syndrome:
Alcohol Use during Pregnancy may Cause ADHD Misdiagnosis in Young Kids
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Evaluation and Treatment