einstein (São Paulo). 01/Sep/2010;8(3):368-75.

The effects of alcohol in newborns

Maria dos Anjos Mesquita

DOI: 10.1590/s1679-45082010rw1624

The purpose of this article was to present a review of the effects of alcohol consumption by pregnant mothers on their newborn. Definitions, prevalence, pathophysiology, clinical features, diagnostic criteria, follow-up, treatment and prevention were discussed. A search was performed in Medline, LILACS, and SciELO databases using the following terms: “fetus”, “newborn”, “pregnant woman”, “alcohol”, “alcoholism”, “fetal alcohol syndrome”, and “alcohol-related disorders”. Portuguese and English articles published from 2000 to 2009 were reviewed. The effects of alcohol consumed by pregnant women on newborns are extremely serious and occur frequently; it is a major issue in Public Health worldwide. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders cause harm to individuals, their families, and the entire society. Nevertheless, diagnostic difficulties and inexperience of healthcare professionals result in such damage, being remembered rarely or even remaining uncovered. Alcohol-related injury to the fetus is fully avoidable; all it takes is for women not to drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy. Therefore, detecting women who consume alcohol during pregnancy is paramount, as are specific programs to educate people about the consequences of alcohol use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The effects of alcohol in newborns