Alcoholic embryopathy

One in a thousand newborns are affected by what is referred to as alcoholic embryopathy, making it the most common form of foetal damage to be brought about by outside influences. Alcoholic poisoning of the unborn child can cause a number of different developmental disorders depending on foetal maturity. The children have a characteristic appearance and are born too small and underweight. There is also damage to the brain and severe malformations of the organs. More than 30 per cent of these children have a congenital heart defect, usually in the form of a ventricular or atrial septal defect. If there is no serious damage to the inner organs then these children have a normal life expectancy.

Author(s): Dr Stefanie Weismann-Günzler
Reviewed by: Dr Heide Seidel
Last updated: 2014-03-13