Harsh measures, or even threats of them, can lead to the avoidance of prenatal care entirely.

In many areas of health policy, the best of intentions can lead to more harm than good. Such is the case with America's approach to alcohol and pregnancy.

The best evidence shows that punitive policies — such as equating drinking while pregnant as child abuse and threatening to involve child protective services — can dissuade women from getting prenatal care.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders refer to a collection of problems in babies and children. These include low birth weight; impaired growth; and problems in

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