FASD is a broad term describing the range of disabilities that can occur in individuals as a result of alcohol exposure before birth.
In this study, researchers have identified 428 distinct disease conditions that co-occur in people with FASD.
“We have systematically identified numerous disease conditions co-occurring with FASD, which underscores the fact that it is not safe to drink any amount or type of alcohol at any stage of pregnancy, despite the conflicting messages the public may hear,” said study lead author Lana Popova from Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada.
“Alcohol can affect any organ or system in the developing fetus,” Popova noted.
The severity and symptoms of FASD vary, based on how much and when alcohol was consumed, as well as other factors in the mother’s life such as stress levels, nutrition and environmental influences.
The effects are also influenced by genetic factors and the body’s ability to break down alcohol, in both the mother and fetus.
The 428 co-occurring conditions were identified after reviewing 127 studies.
These disease conditions can affect nearly every system of the body, including the central nervous system (brain), vision, hearing, cardiac, circulation, digestion, and musculoskeletal and respiratory systems, among others.
“It is important that the public receive a consistent and clear message – if you want to have a healthy child, stay away from alcohol when you’re planning a pregnancy and throughout your whole pregnancy,” Popova said.
The study appeared in the journal The Lancet.