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UK Psychiatrist Claims Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Causes Autism

posted 11:05 PM EST, Sun March 23, 2008
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UK Psychiatrist Claims Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Causes Autism © Phot: Leonid Mamchenkov

After 18 months investigating the health deficits of children born to alcohol abusing mothers, UK psychiatrist Dr. Raja Mukherjee has found an environmental link to autism.

The percentage cases of autism in children are rising by the year. Some would argue that this reflects better diagnoses of the condition, but British Psychiatrist Dr. Raja Mukherjee thinks that heavier drinking by young women may be contributing to the increases.

He has spent the last 18 months investigating a possible link between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and other disorders, and has concluded that drinking alcohol while pregnant increases the risks of giving birth to a child with autism.

Dr. Mukherjee acknowledges that genetic causes of autisms account for the overwhelming majority of cases, but stresses "Unlike genetic conditions, this is 100% preventable."

He bases his claims on 18 months of research done on children born to alcohol abusing women – an unusually high percentage of these children were diagnosed with autism.

In the UK, the percentage cases of fetal alcohol syndrome has been rising over the last decade, and the UK department of health reports that over half of all women drink some alcohol while pregnant.

The rising consumption of alcohol by child-bearing aged women prompted the British Medical Association, earlier this year, to predict a coming and marked increase in cases of fetal alcohol syndrome, and public health organizations have launched reactionary media campaigns targeting women drinkers.

Dr Mukherjee recommends that women completely abstain from alcohol while pregnant.

Although most researchers believe autism is caused by primarily genetic factors, the exact genetic foundations of the disorder remain unknown. In the UK, 1% of children suffer from autism.

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