No level of alcohol is safe during pregnancy Says UB Research Institute

“Nobody has been able to come up with a safe level of drinking (during pregnancy).” – Rina Das Eiden, senior research scientist at UB Research Institute on Addictions Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News“Nobody has been able to come up with a safe level of drinking (during pregnancy).” – Rina Das Eiden, senior research scientist at UB Research Institute on Addictions

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced new recommendations this fall that encourage women who are pregnant to refrain from drinking any alcohol or face a greater prospect of giving birth to a child with mental, behavioral or physical disabilities.

Academy-related researchers reported in last month’s edition of Pediatrics that first-trimester drinking, compared to no drinking, results in 12 times the odds of a mother giving birth to a child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. First- and second-trimester drinking increased the odds 61 times, and women who drink during all trimesters increased the likelihood by a factor of 65.

“The bottom line story is that we don’t really know if there’s a safe level of drinking, so it’s better not to drink at all,” said Rina Das Eiden, a senior research scientist and research associate professor of pediatrics and psychology for the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions. She was not involved in the latest research but specializes in studying the development of children born to parents with tobacco, alcohol and other substance addictions.

Eiden, a native of New Delhi, India, holds a master’s degree in developmental psychology from Purdue University and a doctorate in applied developmental psychology from the University of Maryland. She has worked at the UB institute in Buffalo since 1992. She and her husband, Mark Eiden, a Fort Wayne, Ind., native who she met at Purdue, live in Clarence with their son, Kiran, 17, and a Portuguese water dog, Tessa.

Q. You and Institute Director Kenneth Leonard have been collaborating together since 1996 on a Children of Alcoholic Fathers Study. Can you talk about that?

We recruited 227 families from the community through birth records. Roughly half had an alcoholic father in the household. They all had a child who was a year old at the time. The other half was a control group of non-alcoholic families. And we’ve been following them ever since. … We just finished the high school grade. It’s a really rich data set.

Q. What are some of your key findings?

One really key finding is that when you have an alcoholic parent in the household, the non-alcoholic parent – which in the majority of our study was the mother – can play a very key protective role, and can play that role very early.

Q. Can you talk about some of the similar challenges that children who have parents who abuse substances face across the board?

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Disclaimer:  The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.

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