Alcohol causes the most common congenital disabilities

Alcohol causes the most common congenital disabilities

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Congenital disabilities are often caused by alcohol consumption

The German Association of Occupational Therapists (DVE) draws attention to the fact that alcohol consumption in Germany is one of the most common causes of intellectual disabilities among young people. Despite the wide spread of such congenital malformations, many people do not seem to know this connection.

"The term FASD, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, summarizes the consequences of alcohol consumption during pregnancy," explains DVE occupational therapist Kirsten Kramer. The expert advocates better clarification on the subject. All women should be aware of the risk that every drop of alcohol during pregnancy can harm the unborn child and cause disability.

Young or unwanted pregnant women particularly affected

Recklessness, ignorance, dependency - the reasons why expectant mothers also pick up bottles are of a varied nature. Young and / or unwanted pregnant women are particularly at risk. "At this age, it's particularly important cool to be part of it - despite or just because of the pregnancy, ”explains the occupational therapist. More information is urgently needed here.

A glass of champagne can't hurt - or can it?

As Kramer emphasizes, alcohol consumption is harmful throughout pregnancy. Depending on the stage of development of the fetus, a glass of sparkling wine can cause a disability. Even during the development of the brain, even the smallest amounts of alcohol are extremely problematic because the fetus absorbs the alcohol, but it takes seven times longer than the mother to break it down. The cell poison of alcohol therefore stays in the unborn child much longer and does more damage.

FASD is common

According to the FASD specialist center, around 10,000 children are born in Germany with a disorder caused by alcohol. Such a disability can manifest itself through physical as well as mental disorders. "Children with FASD are often born too small or too easy, are often delayed in their mental, social, emotional, physical and motor development, show behavioral problems up to severe multiple disabilities - the spectrum of possible effects is wide," says Kramer.

High number of unreported cases

To make matters worse, FASD is often not clearly diagnosed, since mothers mostly keep their alcohol consumption out of shame. However, honesty and openness are appropriate here, so that the children receive the right help and support at an early stage, emphasizes the occupational therapist.

Mothers of FASD children often overwhelmed

Kirsten Kramer knows from her experience as an occupational therapist that many mothers of FASD children are overwhelmed with the situation. They do not cope with the child's peculiarities, difficulties or disabilities, are often single parents, too young or struggle with their alcohol addiction.

Build a stable relationship and set limits

“It is therefore particularly important to build a stable relationship with children with alcohol-related disabilities,” emphasizes Kramer. This is the prerequisite for their physical and mental development and the ability to create interpersonal relationships outside the family. In addition, clear limits would have to be shown through consistent action and reaction, because "Children with FASD like to dance out of line, provoke or run away to test how far they can go".

Praise positive qualities

It is also important to praise the child's positive qualities. "This is usually a completely new experience for the child," reports the occupational therapist. The child often experiences himself as a scapegoat because of his behavior. Instead of constantly reproaching the child for what is wrong, Kramer says that one should speak more often about what did it well. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • German Association of Occupational Therapists (DVE): Alcohol is harmful - for a lifetime (children) (accessed: November 28, 2019),
  • FASD Center: What is FASD? (Accessed November 28, 2019),

Video: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (October 2022).