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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Fears Fueled by Few Drinks
August 15, 2005
Trevor Butterworth
Evidence that even moderate drinking during pregnancy can affect child's mental development

A new study by researchers at Wayne State University suggests that lower than expected alcohol consumption during pregnancy can have a negative impact on children's IQ.

After controlling for such factors as home environment, socioeconomic status, and current maternal drinking levels, the researchers found that a group of African American children aged seven-and-a-half, who were exposed to moderate to heavy alcohol while in the womb, had noticeably greater difficulty in solving increasingly complex cognitive tests compared to a control group. According to one of the researchers,

"The real-world implications of this are that children exposed prenatally to alcohol may be able to perform simple tasks, but may struggle with tasks that are more challenging and require complex cognition and the use of working memory. This is likely to mean that these children may be more and more challenged the older they get by the demands placed on them within the school system and within their day-to-day social interactions."

The study, which will be published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research adds to a growing body of research pointing to the dangers of what has been considered safe levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. As part of our in-depth examination of alcohol abuse at, we have examined the research on and evidence for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.