Drinking during pregnancy: Do you ever wonder if women can drink alcohol during pregnancy? Is there any safe level of alcohol intake during pregnancy? That is one of the most frequently asked questions about alcohol and pregnancy.
There are proofs that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is dangerous for your baby. But why? What are the effects of alcohol during pregnancy?
Alcohol and pregnancy
Important news for mothers-to-be! Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may expose your child to the risk of 428 diseases. These conditions are on the list of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), which are the conditions that occur in a person whose mother consumed alcohol during her pregnancy.
This information was released in a study published in The Lancet journal. The study identified 428 co-occurring disease conditions that affected nearly every system of the body including the central nervous system (brain), hearing, vision, blood circulation, heart, digestion, and respiratory systems, among others.
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However, the severity of FASD depended on the volume and number of times alcohol was consumed, as also the stress in the expecting mother’s life and her nutrition and diet.
The report was a collaboration of 33 studies that investigated 1,728 individuals with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)- the most severe type of FASD. The results of the research stated that more than 90 percent of those affected by FAS had problems with conduct.
Almost eight in 10 children had communication disorders and were either not able to comprehend statements or express language. About seven in 10 children had cognitive or developmental disorders and more than half of them had problems with hyperactivity and attention.
The effects of alcohol during pregnancy
According to Medline Plus, drinking during pregnancy can pose harmful effects on the baby that is developing in your womb. Part of these harmful effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy is long-term medical problems and birth defects in your child.
How does alcohol affect the baby in the womb?
When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, the alcohol travels through your blood and crosses the placenta through the umbilical cord. It will then pass to your baby’s blood, tissues, and organs.
The alcohol may remain longer in the baby’s body than in the mother’s because the alcohol breaks down more slowly in the baby’s body that in the adult’s. If the alcohol remains in the blood, tissues, and organs of your baby, this may result in lifelong damage and other negative effects on your baby.
Effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy
As stated in the Lancet journal, drinking during pregnancy can cause a group of defects in your baby. This group of defects is what we call fetal alcohol syndrome. Some of the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome are the following:
These medical problems may not only affect your baby physically but also emotionally and mentally. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may also lead to complications in the infant, such as premature delivery and cerebral palsy. Worst of all, the effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy may lead to pregnancy loss or miscarriage.
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How much alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy?
According to American Addiction Centers, it is often mistakenly believed that drinking alcohol when the unborn baby is almost completely formed during the last trimester of pregnancy, is okay.
However, the organization clarifies this belief. They said that any kind of alcoholic beverage, whether that is wine, beer, spirits, etc. is not safe at any stage of pregnancy. Alcohol consumption is not safe for your baby whether it is your first, second, or third trimester of pregnancy.
A study mentioned in the Healthline article also stated that there is no safe level of alcohol during pregnancy. In addition, drinking during pregnancy is linked with low birth weight and cognitive deficits in babies.
Additionally, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated the same claim. According to them, there is no advisable amount of how much alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy.
Also, the time for alcohol use during pregnancy is utterly impossible. Generally, all kinds of alcoholic beverages are equally harmful, such as beer and wine. Drinking during pregnancy may increase the risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) for your baby.
So, Mommies, this is an important matter that needs a serious take because as parents, we need to protect our babies from anything that may affect them negatively.
Drinking during pregnancy has an adverse effect on your baby’s brain development. If you want to keep your baby safe and make them healthy all throughout your pregnancy journey, it is important to remember not to take any amount of alcohol during pregnancy.
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Drinking alcohol during the first weeks of pregnancy
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strictly highlights that women who are trying to conceive or to become pregnant should not drink. This is also advisable even during the first weeks of pregnancy.
While moms-to-be are trying to be safe against alcohol intake during pregnancy (because of the inability to get pregnant), it is also important to know that studies can not prove that there is a safe amount of alcohol for pregnant.
Since you might get pregnant without expecting it, the CDC also stated that you avoid alcohol as soon as you discover that you are, pregnant.
They are also covering that the first weeks of pregnancy are until weeks 3 to 4, or as soon as your missed period. That is why it is important to refrain from drinking alcohol during this early stage.
Possible side effects of drinking alcohol during the first weeks of pregnancy
There are numerous concerns that might happen with drinking alcohol during first weeks of pregnancy. These side effects may include risks of miscarriage and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
These risks will include symptoms that you might find too late for your child, like the following:
- pre-term birth
- lower birth weight
- neurological problems
- behavioral problems that will show up later in the childhood stage
- in some cases, they will have certain abnormal facial features: thinner upper lip, small eyes, missing vertical crease between the nose and lips
- cognitive and motor-skills difficulties
What to do if you had alcohol during first weeks of pregnancy
Once you discover that you are in your first weeks of pregnancy, STOP drinking immediately. You may start from this step to prevent further complications. Your fetus’ brain has a lot of development to undergo.
Also, take your prescribed prenatal vitamins, have a regular and healthy diet, and avoid uncooked and undercooked meat and raw or high-mercury fish. Follow and keep your prenatal visits and appointments.
These are the important things that you can do to save and promote your baby’s life.
Smoking and pregnancy
Drinking during pregnancy is not the only factor that may impose risk on your unborn child. Aside from alcohol use, smoking tobacco during pregnancy is also dangerous for the baby inside your womb.
According to Dr. Kecia Gaither, as stated in an article published by Healthline, smoking tobacco in pregnancy impairs the normal delivery of oxygen to the fetus in your womb. That is because tobacco smoke produces carbon monoxide.
When you smoke during pregnancy, you are putting your baby at high risk of developing lung diseases and worst, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
If you are a smoker before pregnancy, you can ask your healthcare provider for advice on how you can stop smoking to protect your baby from any risk that may harm them.
More importantly, drinking during pregnancy is a no-no for mommies-to-be. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages during pregnancy as soon as possible.
On a side note, if you have any alcohol addiction, consult a doctor that can provide you guidance regarding this. This will also help in keeping your baby safe and sound until you give birth to them.
Republished with permission from theAsianparent Singapore
Additional information by Jobelle Macayan and Nathanielle Torre
Here at theAsianparent Philippines, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advise or medical treatment. theAsianparent Philippines is not responsible to those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend to consult your doctor for clearer information.