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Mon, Nov 05, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Study shows link between drinking, infant retardation

By Sandy Hua  /  STAFF REPORTER

Women drinking alcohol while pregnant is responsible for 77 percent of infant retardation cases, medical researchers said yesterday.

The study, conducted at Taitung Hospital in May, involved 90 retarded children. Researchers concluded that retardation in 70 of the children was directly connected to the alcohol consumption of their mothers.

Five of the children had inherited their illness and the causes of retardation in the other children were not clear.

Chen Ming-tseh (陳明哲), a psychiatrist at the hospital, said the failure to recognize the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome early meant delays in necessary treatment for many children.

Women who consume alcohol during their pregnancy typically have a higher chance of miscarriage, premature births, stillbirths and underweight babies than those who do not consume alcohol during pregnancy.

The research also showed that 63 of the children surveyed were at least partly Aboriginal. Chen said the high rate of long-term unemployment in Taitung, where many Aboriginals live, resulted in higher levels of alcohol consumption in the area.

Most of Taiwan's Aboriginals live in the remote areas of eastern and southeastern Taiwan, particularly Taitung, Hualien and Pingtung.

By consuming excessive alcohol, Chen said, people harmed not only their own health but also the health of the next generation.

He said early treatment was important to help these retarded children to live independently in society.

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