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September 2023
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The Birth Defect That May Hinge on a Binge: Study: Binging While Pregnant Doubles, Even Triples Oral Cleft Risk

Binge Drinking Friends of mine recently traveled to the Far East and came home with a special surprise: a young toddler. As handsome and as happy as this young boy is sure to make his adoptive parents, he has an oral cleft – something that makes him highly susceptible to colds, ear infections and a host of dental problems. 

If you’ve ever seen someone with an oral cleft, you know that it’s very noticeable and is something that often causes people to stare. Approximately 1 in every 700 to 1,000 birth defects in the

United States are oral clefts; that prevalence is even higher in Asian countries; for whatever reason, oral clefts frequent people with Asian heritage.

If treated early through surgery (within a year to a year and a half after birth), children can live long and healthy lives without any health complications.  But people don’t always have the means to put their child through surgery, leaving their child victim to ridicule through their childhood years and subject to way too many visits to the dentist office.
While no one thing can eliminate the risk of a birth defect like oral clefts, avoiding drinking while pregnant can reduce that risk significantly.  Particularly binge drinking.

With all that we now know about a mother’s health, it’s hard to believe that there are women out there that not just drink but binge drink while pregnant.  Yikes!  Sadly, if women binge drink in their first trimester of pregnancy, they’re twice as likely to have a baby with a cleft palette, cleft lip or both.  Researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing approximately 1,330 Norwegian women that gave birth between 1996 and 2002.  They found that the more the women binged during their pregnancy, the higher the risk of birth defect.  For example, the women that binge drank more than three times during their first trimester of pregnancy tripled the risk of their child having an oral cleft.  This of course makes sense, not only because the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant are well-documented, but also because a baby’s facial features are formed during the first three months of the gestation period.

Fortunately, as the researchers note, most of the world knows about the dangers of drinking while pregnant, so this data is sort of like trying to teach a major league short stop how to turn a double play – he already knows how!  But because Norway has one of the highest rates of children with oral clefts in all of Europe, clearly the message isn’t getting through.
Again, I’m not about to say why you shouldn’t drink while pregnant – I think we all know why we shouldn’t (if we don’t, we’re in serious trouble).   But this study is a testament to why binge drinking is such a dangerous activity.  If you drink at all, it should be sparingly.  Moderate levels of alcohol can bring some nutritional benefit, but this study should be clarion call to everyone that high amounts of alcohol consumption are darn near toxic.

Related Posts

  1. Intake of Prenatal Vitamins Drastically Reduces Children’s Cancer Risk, Study Finds
  2. Women Who Breastfeed Reduce Their Risk of Breast Cancer, Study Shows
  3. Study: Breast Cancer Risk Increases with Each Drink among Women
  4. Pregnant Women Taking Nutritional Supplements Positively Influence Future Generations
  5. Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Expecting Mothers Linked to Heart Defects In Newborns, Study Says

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