Preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome for a Healthy Pregnancy

By Kristi Dively, D.O.,

Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers

January 2018. For many moms, their biggest priority is seeing their kids grow up happy and healthy. They take folic acid, avoid raw fish, switch medications—all to give their babies the best start in life. But for moms-to-be who suffer from alcoholism, it’s not so simple. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and as an obstetrics gynecologist, I want to raise awareness of one type of birth defect that is completely preventable but still a huge risk for women with alcoholism: fetal alcohol syndrome.

Fetal alcohol syndrome is part of a range of conditions known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). These conditions are caused by drinking while pregnant. The effects can be physical, from abnormal facial features and shorter height, to cognitive impairments like poor memory or low IQ. A person with an FASD may also experience problems with their heart, kidneys, or bones. They could have difficulty in school. From infancy to adulthood, FASDs cause a variety of serious issues.

Developing the Baby Without the Addiction

If your daughter is pregnant, but still consuming alcohol, it’s important to let her know that there’s still time to get help. While it’s best for someone with alcohol dependency to go through the recovery treatment process prior to getting pregnant, it’s never too late in a pregnancy to stop drinking. A baby’s brain is developing throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy, though the first trimester is the most important.

Some addiction treatment centers don’t have the capability to support recovery for a woman in the later stages of pregnancy. Fortunately, there are a few select facilities like Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers that are able to admit pregnant women up to 32 weeks pregnant, and allows them to get the treatment they need before they are full term; most centers cannot treat until 32 weeks.

At Retreat, we work with local OB/GYNs to coordinate a patient’s recovery treatment plan with their prenatal care. For a pregnant woman, recovery from alcohol addiction or substance abuse can be monitored by a team of qualified professionals to ensure the health of mom and baby.

You can help your daughter and grandchild both during and after treatment. Family support is one of the best indicators that a patient’s addiction recovery will be successful with a reduced chance of relapse. Retreat brings families into the treatment process, providing the tools necessary to break old habits and start fresh.

For babies who may suffer from a FASD, early detection and treatment are the key to reducing symptoms and helping children grow and develop to reach their full potential.

New Year, New Beginnings

January is a month for new beginnings, especially for moms-to-be who are bringing a new life into the world. But she doesn’t have to do it alone. With the right care, she can keep her New Year’s Resolution of a safe and sober delivery.

If you are looking for guidance for a loved one or seeking treatment for substance abuse, connect with Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers for information online at, engage in a live chat, talk or private message us on our social media pages, or call 24/7 HELPLINE at (866) 470-8161.

About Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers

Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers is a fully accredited rehabilitation center, which provides a compassionate and spiritual environment where those suffering from the disease of addiction can begin the journey to recovery through enlightenment and education to the individuals and their families. To meet the diverse treatment needs of patients, Retreat offers detox, rehabilitation, family education, holistic therapy, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), and specialized programs for pregnant women, veterans and college students.

With its headquarters in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and a facility in Palm Springs, Florida, Retreat helps patients throughout the United States and accepts most insurance plans. It offers high-end accommodations, modern amenities and a recreational facility. Retreat hosts educational events regularly for public service officials and private sector professionals seeking continuing educational opportunities to facilitate awareness, encourage community involvement, and increase engagement. For more information, please visit or call 855.859.8808.