Pregnancy and Drinking alcohol
The question: One little drink won’t hurt my baby, will it? The answer: Maybe not. But experts agree that no level of alcohol has been proved safe during pregnancy. Although you have a greater chance of harming your baby if you drink excessively, even moderate or minimal alcohol use can be damaging.
The reason: If you drink alcohol, so does your baby. It doesn’t matter if you drink beer, wine or other forms of liquor. Once in your bloodstream, alcohol passes through the placenta to your baby. Sustained drinking during pregnancy increases your risk of miscarriage and fetal death. It also can cause permanent damage to your baby.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most serious problem caused by excessive alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Each year, between 1,300 and 8,000 babies are born in the United States with the condition. FAS can cause such birth defects as facial deformities, heart problems, low birth weight and mental retardation. Babies born with FAS may also have permanent growth problems, short attention spans, learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
Children whose mothers drink even moderately can be born with fetal alcohol effect (FAE). This condition can cause some, but not all, of the defects of FAS. Depending on the damage done, these children may be referred to as having alcohol-related birth defects (ARBDs) or alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorders (ARNDs).
The damage caused by alcohol is permanent. It’s also completely preventable. As soon as you know you’re pregnant, don’t drink alcohol. If you’re planning to get pregnant, it’s a good idea to stop drinking. Alcohol exposure can cause birth defects in the early weeks of your pregnancy, before you may know you’re carrying a child.
Small amounts of alcohol can wind up in breast milk and be passed on to your baby. You may want to abstain from alcohol use until you’re finished breast-feeding.
If you think you might need help to stop drinking alcohol, talk with your health care provider.
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Posted in Pregnancy