5. Alcohol and pregnancy

Alcohol is a teratogen - this means that it is a substance that causes developmental abnormalities in the fetus.

The pattern of abnormal development associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy is recognised by the medical term Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

It is esimated that approximately 50% of pregnancies in New Zealand are alcohol exposed. The good news is that 75% of women stop drinking when their pregnancies are confirmed but that leaves a significant proportion who continue to drink. 

FASD is the leading preventable cause of intellectual disability in the western world. Not all babies exposed to alcohol before birth will have FASD: it is impossible to predict. This section will assist you to learn more about FASD and how you can support alcohol-free pregnancies and enable effective care for those with FASD.