Medicine: Alcohol's Youngest Victims

Drinking during pregnancy is riskier than many women realize

Everyone should know by now that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause serious physical and mental problems in the unborn child. Most doctors have told their patients, television announcements have dramatized the dangers, and warning signs have gone up in restaurants and bars. But too many mothers-to-be are not getting the message. More than 50,000 babies are born in the U.S. each year with alcohol-related defects. In about one-fourth of these cases, the damage -- ranging from facial deformities to heart abnormalities -- is severe enough to be classified as fetal alcohol syndrome.

Many people still do not realize how common...

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