Excessive maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy (especially among women with alcohol dependency) is known to markedly increase the risk of the foetus showing a group of developmental disorders defined as foetal alcohol spectrum syndrome (FASD), with the most serious form being foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

A recent paper attempts to identify maternal risk factors for FASD and FAS, but the authors report that there was not enough data to carry out a formal meta-analysis. They do, however, describe important maternal risk factors that have been reported in the literature to relate to these syndromes.

The more frequent maternal conditions related to the risk of FASD or FAS include older age of the mother, lower educational level, family relatives who abuse alcohol, little prenatal care, and a more severe pattern of alcohol consumption in general, and particularly during pregnancy. They emphasise that “FAS is a multi-factorial condition, and it is potentiated by complex relationships among several factors, social and biological”.