Drinking While Pregnant

Pregnant women and those trying to become pregnant should avoid alcohol entirely until the baby has been born. Even drinking one glass of wine regularly can put the unborn fetus at risk of several developmental, mental, and emotional disorders. If a woman believes she may be pregnant, she should stop drinking altogether and refrain from taking in any alcoholic beverages throughout her pregnancy. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, the substance passes through the umbilical cord, reaching the fetus. This affects all the developmental processes of the fetus (brain, central nervous system, heart, eyes, ears, legs, arms, teeth, external genitalia, etc). If the mother continues to drink throughout her pregnancy, this constant exposure to alcohol’s effects causes development, cognitive, and physical damage to the unborn child.

How much alcohol is safe?

If a pregnant woman drinks a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or a small amount of hard liquor, it passes through to the fetus just like food and nonalcoholic beverages. Some people mistakenly believe that it’s okay to drink late in pregnancy when the unborn baby is nearly completely formed. However, the baby’s brain and other body systems are still too immature to be exposed to alcohol in any amount. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that 0.2 – 1.5 infants out of every 1,000 live births or 2-5% have fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD).

Alcohol In The Home

It isn’t only the pregnant woman who is responsible for ensuring she doesn’t drink. Her partner or spouse should also take responsibility for ensuring that she completely abstains from alcohol throughout her pregnancy. Her partner may want to consider abstaining as well. It makes it easier for the woman to abstain successfully. The partner’s consumption of alcohol may affect the child’s development, especially if that person drinks heavily. Alcohol also negatively affects men’s sperm cells. As the sperm fertilizes the woman’s egg, it introduces the effects of the alcohol to the newly fertilized embryo.

Effects of Alcohol On Unborn Baby

A pregnant woman puts her unborn child at risk of several issues if she continues to drink while pregnant.

  • Low birth weight
  • Premature birth
  • Miscarriage
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
    • Small head
    • Abnormal facial features
    • Below average height and weight
    • Lack of focus
    • Poor coordination
    • Delayed development
    • Intellectual and learning disabilities
    • Heart and kidney problems
    • Deformed limbs or fingers

Cognitive issues can include poor memory, attention difficulties, problems with math skills, learning disabilities, speech and language delays, low IQ, and poor judgment skills. The child experiences hyperactivity and behavioral issues. Also, they may have heart, skeletal, kidney, vision, or hearing problems, according to the CDC.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says a child may be at risk of developing a dependence on alcohol or other substances. If an infant or school-aged child was exposed to alcohol before birth, they may not exhibit physical characteristics, but will still experience behavioral and cognitive difficulties.

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