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Skip Navigation LinksCurriculum for Addiction Professionals > Competency 1: Introduction to FASD > 9. Relationship Between Prenatal Alcohol Use and Fetal/Infant Death

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Competency 1: Introduction to FASD

Relationship Between Prenatal Alcohol Use and Fetal/Infant Death

Pregnant woman drinking an alcoholic beverage

Researchers identified an association between prenatal alcohol exposure and fetal death more than 20 years ago. The likelihood of miscarriage increased directly with alcohol consumption. Risk was twice as high in women consuming 1 ounce of absolute alcohol as infrequently as twice a week.35 More recently, fetal mortality was found to be 77 percent higher when alcohol was consumed during pregnancy.36 Prenatal alcohol exposure is also associated with a higher rate of infant death.37

A related research finding was that siblings of children with FAS had increased risk of death due to infectious illness and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) compared with controls. A diagnosis of FAS is an important risk marker for mortality in siblings of an individual with FAS even if the siblings do not have FAS. Maternal alcoholism appears to be a useful risk marker for increased mortality risk in diagnosed cases and their siblings.37 In some populations, such as Northern Plains Indians, binge drinking (four or more drinks in about two hours) in the first trimester was associated with an increased risk of SIDS.38

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