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Clinical Reviews

Alcohol: An unfortunate teratogen

Fetal alcohol syndrome is entirely preventable. We need to remind ourselves and our patients of this fact.

January 2013 · Vol. 25, No. 1


  • Effects of fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Could providers be better informed?
  • Screening and intervention

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The author reports no financial relationships relevant to this article.

Medical students learn early in their education that alcohol is a teratogen. Despite this widespread knowledge, many obstetricians counsel patients about the safety of low doses of alcohol in pregnancy.1 Indeed, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ position on this is, “while the safest approach may be to avoid any alcohol during pregnancy, it remains the case that there is no evidence of harm from low levels of alcohol consumption, defined as no more than one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week.”2

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