A study published on Tuesday, February 6 by the Journal of the American Medical Association has claimed that more children have been affected by the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. The numbers of the spectrum of disorders are estimated at around 5% which the Journal claims is a conservative figure. Another approach outlined in the study estimates the number to be as high as 10%.
The spectrum of fetal alcohol disorders are identified as a combination of conditions which may include abnormal growth of the facial features of the baby, behavioral problems and intellectual disabilities states the study. One of the authors of the study Christina Chambers who is a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego school of medicine has mentioned that the estimates provided earlier were not accurate but at best were gross underestimates because the disorder is difficult to recognize.
Chambers along with her colleagues also mentioned that the results of the latest study could be closer to reality than the studies conducted earlier. The estimates were mentioned earlier as being as low as 1% state the authors which could be on the lower end of their findings.
Experts have criticized the study which has been published
The director of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic And Prevention Network At the University Of Washington, Susan Astley has criticized the higher numbers of the study which have been estimated.
Astley teaches epidemiology and pediatrics at the University of Washington and claimed that she didn’t regard the numbers highly and that she was disappointed to observe the report coming from the likes of JAMA.
While claiming that more research needs to be carried out Astley mentioned that the new study is both overestimating and underestimating the prevalence of this problem in different ways simply because of the method used for the collection of data.
The need for collecting accurate estimates has also been pointed out by Astley who has an opinion that the present estimates are not reflecting the reality.
Is alcohol in the womb causing serious problems?
The centers for disease control and prevention states that about one in 10 women in the United States that are pregnant and between the ages of 18 to 44 have reported the consumption of at least a single alcoholic beverage over the last 30 days despite the knowledge that they were pregnant. The numbers are not reducing and therefore a good job is not being done to turn the tide mentioned Chambers.
Critics have reasons to dispute the numbers published by the latest study because the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy were as high as 40 to 80% in countries such as New Zealand, UK, and Australia. Under the circumstances can it be assumed that the study which was published on Tuesday is giving inaccurate numbers?
What was the methodology used to conduct the study?
Experts were sent to test students from public and private schools from four US communities for cognitive and behavioral problems and also to interview their mothers about their pattern of alcohol consumption in order to analyze the growth and facial features of the children.
The authors have mentioned that the study may not be representing the entire population of the country because the communities chosen were diverse.
The experts chose 222 children from the first grade who were displaying signs of FASD from the thousands that participated. Earlier just two of the students had been diagnosed with the disorder which is known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Research conducted earlier also provided illustrations of how many children could be suffering from FASD while going by the belief that it could be the majority of the children who were in all probability not diagnosed correctly.
Chambers has received credit from some researchers for dispatching trained experts to collect data from communities by using a method which is presently being identified as the most reliable approach to estimate the prevailing numbers of children suffering from FASD.
The researchers that are praising the efforts of Chambers are individuals who have conducted studies on these disorders on a global scale. The critics, however, have a different view and state that the places chosen for the studies were not appropriate. Is this therefore just a matter of one-upmanship by researchers representing different institutes?
The numbers of children suffering from FASD is certainly concerning and so is the ongoing consumption of alcohol by pregnant women. At this stage, wouldn’t it be better if various institutions worked together to battle the problem in its entirety rather than conflicting each other on the methodology used for the study?