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Expectant moms getting mixed messages about alchohol use

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If you're an expecting mom and think it's OK to have a little alcohol during your pregnancy, you should think twice before tipping that drink.

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The Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) is concerned that a recent research study from Denmark gives women a mixed message.

The study states that low to moderate drinking of up to eight alcoholic drinks per week is generally safe for the developing baby.

MOFAS disagrees. It believes there is no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy.

"Studies like these are misleading to pregnant women and only places doubt in the minds of moms-to-be about the actual risk of drinking alcohol during pregnancy," said MOFAS Executive Director Sara Messelt in a statement released to the media this week.

"There is overwhelming evidence of more than 30 years of research to the contrary."

MOFAS was founded in 1998 by former first lady Susan Carlson, and works around the state of Minnesota to educate and train about the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy and to provide intervention and support for those individuals and families already affected.

Messelt explained that alcohol has been widely documented as a teratogen, which is an agent that can disturb the development of an embryo or fetus, and can cause a range of developmental disabilities called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

It's the leading cause of preventable intellectual disabilities and behavioral difficulties.

It's not a rare occurrence. In Minnesota, more than 8,500 babies are born each year with some level of prenatal alcohol exposure, according to Messelt.

So, how much alcohol is too much?

The answer is unclear.

According to MOFAS, there's absolutely no way of knowing how any amount of alcohol will affect a particular baby.

"Alcohol affects each pregnancy and person differently for a variety of reasons, such as genetics and metabolism," MOFAS stated. "But we do know that FASD is 100 percent preventable if alcohol is not consumed during pregnancy."

For all the biological, foster and adoptive families raising children permanently harmed by prenatal alcohol exposure, there are countless stories about how "a little alcohol" has caused endless heartbreak for these children and their families.

Why take the risk?

MOFAS urges all pregnant women to remember "0-4-9" - zero alcohol for nine months.

-This article was originally published in the Alexandria Echo Press, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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