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Drinking alcohol, taking drugs or using other substances during pregnancy can cause serious injury to an unborn child. One of the leading causes of birth defects and mental retardation is known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or FAS, which is caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Nearly 5,000 babies-1 in every 750 (in Canada), are born with FAS every year. FAS may affect 36,000 newborns each year. One in six women aged 18-34 may drink or abuse other drugs enough to present a hazard to an unborn infant. Only two drinks a day triple the risk of premature delivery and low birth weight, growth abnormalities and behavioural problems in a newborn and infant. FAS is recognised as the known cause of mental retardation in the western world, exceeding Down's Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy.

Risks on an unborn child:
mental retardation,
low birth-weight,
facial malformations: small head, flattened mid-face, sunken nasal bridge
central nervous system dysfunction
hearing loss
learning difficulties: low IQ, hyperactivity, short attention span and difficulty reacting to others
(Down Three, Canada)

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