Neonatal ethanol withdrawal: characteristics in clinically normal, nondysmorphic neonates. Coles CD. Smith IE. Fernhoff PM. Falek A. Journal of Pediatrics. 105(3):445-51, 1984 Sep.


Although neonatal withdrawal syndrome is often noted in infants of narcotics addicts, ethanol withdrawal has been reported only among neonates with fetal alcohol syndrome. To examine the possibility that ethanol withdrawal occurs more widely and to identify its characteristics, the behavior of eight neonates born to women who drank a mean of 21 ounces of absolute alcohol per week during gestation was compared with that of two contrast groups: 15 infants whose mothers drank an equivalent amount but stopped in the second trimester, and 29 infants whose mothers never drank. None of the 52 infants had fetal alcohol syndrome, and all were in good health. Neurobehavioral evaluation 3 days postnatally compared the groups for the occurrence of characteristic signs of withdrawal from central nervous system depressants. Whereas there was no difference in the frequency of withdrawal symptoms among infants of mothers who never drank (mean 1.4) or of mothers who stopped drinking (mean 1.8), infants of mothers who continued to drink (mean 4.7) had significantly more tremors, hypertonia, restlessness, excessive mouthing movements, unconsolable crying, and reflex abnormalities. By interfering with state control and interactive behaviors, withdrawal could affect mother-infant bonding as well as the conditions that foster cognitive and social development.

















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