[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
May 13, 1983

Fetal Effects of Maternal Alcohol Use

JAMA. 1983;249(18):2517-2521. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330420063039

IN JULY 1981, the Surgeon General of the United States issued an advisory on drinking during pregnancy.1 "Each patient," he declared, "should be told about the risk of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, and advised not to drink alcoholic beverages and to be aware of the alcoholic content of foods and drugs."

The advisory summarized relevant findings of a report on the health hazards of alcohol that had recently been issued by the US Department of the Treasury and the Department of Health and Human Services. Among these findings were decrements in birth weights of infants whose mothers' average intake of absolute alcohol was as small as 30 mL (1 oz) per day, an increased risk of spontaneous abortions with ingestion of as little as 30 mL of alcohol per week, as well as major deformities and impairments that are characterized as the fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and associated with