Maternal risk factors for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: not as simple as it might seem

Alcohol Res Health. 2011;34(1):15-26.


Gathering information about drinking during pregnancy is one of the most difficult aspects of studying fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). This information is critical to linking specific risk factors to any particular diagnosis within the FASD continuum. This article reviews highlights from the literature on maternal risk factors for FASD and illustrates that maternal risk is multidimensional, including factors related to quantity, frequency, and timing of alcohol exposure; maternal age; number of pregnancies; number of times the mother has given birth; the mother's body size; nutrition; socioeconomic status; metabolism; religion; spirituality; depression; other drug use; and social relationships. More research is needed to more clearly define what type of individual behavioral, physical, and genetic factors are most likely to lead to having children with FASD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Binge Drinking / diagnosis
  • Binge Drinking / epidemiology
  • Binge Drinking / psychology
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / diagnosis
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / genetics
  • Humans
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / diagnosis
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / genetics
  • Risk Factors