Dangers of Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant

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Drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause many problems for both you and your unborn baby. January is National Birth Defects Awareness Month, and it’s important to understand the dangers that can come from drinking alcohol while pregnant, as they include many types of birth defects.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Those who drink any amount of alcohol during pregnancy risk the possibility of their baby being born with a condition called fetal alcohol syndrome. This condition can lead to several different types of birth defects.

  • The symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome include: Poor fetal growth, leading to underdevelopment
  • Decreased muscle tone
  • Poor concentration
  • Developmental delays
  • Problems with speech, thinking, movement, or social skills,
  • Heart defects: possible defects of the heart associated with fetal alcohol syndrome include ventricular septal defect (VSD) or atrial septal defect (ASD).

For a child to be diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, they must show signs of growth deficiency, neurological impairment, and the three facial features that are characteristic of the syndrome:

  • Narrow, small, wide-set eyes that have large epicanthal folds
  • A narrow upper lip

No groove or indentation above the upper lip Fetal alcohol syndrome is an incurable disorder that is completely avoidable by simply not drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Although some people will insist that a few units of alcohol are safe for a fetus, the truth is that there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy.

Other Birth Defects

Other complications can occur from drinking alcohol while pregnant, such as cerebral palsy and premature delivery. In some cases, premature delivery can lead to breathing problems, delays in development, vision problems, hearing impairment, feeding difficulties, and cardiac problems.

In addition to these problems, unborn babies can die when a person drinks a large amount of alcohol during pregnancy. Stillbirth and miscarriages are common after pregnant women ingest a large amount of alcohol. Again, these issues are preventable if the individual avoids alcohol abuse.

As there is no known safe amount of alcohol which can be consumed during pregnancy without introducing the possibility of birth defects or other issues, women should not drink any alcohol during pregnancy, both for her own sake and the sake of the child.

What to Do for Alcoholism During Pregnancy

If someone who is pregnant is also currently an alcoholic, they need to seek out an addiction treatment program to help them stop drinking.  If someone who is being treated with Disulfiram (Antabuse) for an alcohol addiction finds themselves pregnant, they need to seek immediate medical advice, as this medication can cause birth defects.

The best form of treatment for alcohol addiction during pregnancy is an inpatient program that provides around the clock medical care and monitoring. While it is safe to detox during pregnancy, and doing so will minimize the damage to and even save the life of the baby, medical supervision will ensure the safety of both mother and child, while also protecting them both from the danger of relapse.