Alcohol And Pregnancy

Someone in a different venue asked about drinking while pregnant.  This is such a critical issue that I thought I’d cover it here.

I’ve heard that there are some kinds of alcohol that a pregnant woman can drink safely. What about that?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),

“There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink and no safe kind of alcohol.”

Women who drink alcohol while pregnant run a high risk of affecting the healthy development of their baby. The resulting damage is called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Problems can range from low birth weight to mental retardation.

Some of the effects of FASD (again, from the CDC) include:

  • Abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip (this ridge is called the philtrum)
  • Small head size
  • Shorter-than-average height
  • Low body weight
  • Poor coordination
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty in school (especially with math)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech and language delays
  • Intellectual disability or low IQ
  • Poor reasoning and judgment skills
  • Sleep and sucking problems as a baby
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Problems with the heart, kidneys, or bones.

In short, no. Don’t drink while you are pregnant. If you are drinking and unable to stop, detoxing from the alcohol and remaining abstinent for the term of your pregnancy reduces the chance of your baby being affected. Alcohol detox during pregnancy is tricky, and can threaten the life of both the fetus and the mother. It should be carried out in a medical facility, and never attempted at home.

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