Alcohol enters both your bloodstream and your baby’s bloodstream at the same concentration, where it can interfere with the development of critical organs, structures and systems. The bottom line is that nobody is certain of the extent of harm that light drinking can cause a baby. In the absence of evidence, healthcare professionals and medical bodies err on the side of caution. “The distinction between light drinking and abstinence is indeed the point of most tension and confusion for health professionals and pregnant women, and public health guidance varies worldwide,” she added.

The same amount of alcohol that is in your blood is also in your baby’s blood. Although your body is able to manage some alcohol in your blood, you baby’s little body isn’t capable of doing that. Alcohol use significantly increases the chances of a premature birth. A premature birth occurs when a baby is born before a mother reaches 37 weeks of pregnancy. Not only do premature births come with a high risk for serious health conditions, but they can be fatal.


Despite this clear advice, up to half of women drink some alcohol during pregnancy. If you have a problem with alcohol, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Addiction is a disease, and most people can’t manage it on their own. Your doctor can refer you to a therapist or program that may be able to help. The sooner you get help, the better life will be for you and your baby. Women make decisions about risks and outcomes for our health and the health of our children all the time. We decide what contraception to use based on our acceptance of the risk of an unintended pregnancy.

alcohol during pregnancy

FASD may present in childhood or early adulthood with mild social or intellectual concerns, or it can present with birth defects and growth problems during pregnancy. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink when pregnant. In the United States, exposure of alcohol to the fetus is the most common cause of babies born with birth defects and intellectual disability. Exposure to alcohol during pregnancy causes damage to the brain and these are absolutely preventable effects. Alcohol use during pregnancy causes life-long issues that can be very serious. If you’ve consumed alcohol during pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider.

Can An Alcoholic Have A Healthy Baby?

We will keep your personal information secure and will not share your data with other organisations to use for their own purposes.View our Privacy Policy here. The percent numbers (%) you see on the label of the bottle or can will tell you how much of the drink is pure alcohol. Talk to your doctor or midwife, they will not judge you and they can offer you more support if you need it. Because of these problems, children with FAS often have low self-esteem. They do best with an education program that is tailored to their needs. Children with FAS have problems with development, learning, behaviour and social skills.

alcohol during pregnancy

Early diagnosis may help to reduce problems such as learning difficulties and behavioral issues. Parental training is meant to help parents to help families cope with behavioral, educational and social challenges. Parents might learn different routines and rules that can help their child adapt to different situations. Often, having a stable and supportive home can help children with FAS avoid developing mental and emotional difficulties as they get older.

Increase Abstinence From Alcohol Among Pregnant Women

Even if you don’t drink often, drinking a large amount at 1 time can harm the baby. Miscarriage.This is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Birth defects, likeheart defects, hearing problems or vision problems. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or in how the body works.

  • There is no known safe level for drinking alcohol during pregnancy, which is why advice is to avoid it completely.
  • It is not just about how much or when a woman drinks alcohol that affects the developing baby.
  • But there were no statistically significant effects on other factors, such as the baby’s long-term health.
  • Hearing loss due to problems within the inner, middle, and outer ear are also common, as are vision problems.

Researchers observed the psychological, behavioral, neural and cognitive differences of 9,719 children between the ages of nine and ten. They defined low alcohol consumption as one to two drinks per occasion with a maximum of six drinks per week. 25% of the children had been exposed to alcohol in the womb with 60% being exposed to lower levels and 40% higher. Naltrexone is a nonselective opioid antagonist that is used to treat AUD and opioid use disorder. The long-term effects of naltrexone on the fetus are currently unknown. Animal studies show that naltrexone administered during pregnancy increases the incidence of early fetal loss; however, there are insufficient data available to identify the extent to which this is a risk in pregnant women. Whatever the risks, many moms-to-be are choosing not to totally give up alcohol.

It’s important to make an early diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome. If you’re currently pregnant and drinking alcohol, stop immediately to try to lower the risk of FAS. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a condition that develops in a fetus when a pregnant person drinks alcohol during pregnancy. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that happen together as the result of a particular disease or abnormal condition. When someone has fetal alcohol syndrome, they’re at the most severe end of what are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders . While drinking alcohol at any stage of pregnancy poses a risk, it is often not just about how much a woman drinks, but when.

Having A Drink During Pregnancy Is A Personal Decision

The mother can suffer from anxiety and depression which can result in child abuse/neglect. It has also been observed that when the pregnant mother withdraws from alcohol, its effects are visible on the infant as well. The baby remains in an irritated mood, cries frequently, doesn’t sleep properly, alcohol during pregnancy weakening of sucking ability and increased hunger. Alcohol use during pregnancy is linked to miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, and sudden infant death syndrome. It can also cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems.

  • There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
  • Alcohol consumption in the first trimester of pregnancy, which is a crucial developmental stage of fetal growth, can have serious consequences.
  • Treatment providers are available 24/7 to answer your questions about rehab, whether it’s for you or a loved one.

Almost all national health organizations recommend complete abstinence when it comes to drinking during pregnancy, while some obstetricians – including myself – say it’s OK to have a drink now and then. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, the alcohol travels through her blood and into the baby’s blood, tissues, and organs. Alcohol breaks down much more slowly in the baby’s body than in an adult. That means the baby’s blood alcohol level remains increased longer than the mother’s. This can harm the baby and can sometimes lead to lifelong damage. A miscarriage occurs when a mother loses her baby prior to the 6-month mark.

Physical Defects

For that reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women who are pregnant, or who are planning to become pregnant, abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages of any kind. If you drink heavily and you think you may have problems stopping, talk to your doctor or midwife. These can include delirium tremens , and you will need help to manage them. The healthcare team caring for you during your pregnancy can give you advice and support. If you are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, and find that it is impossible to stop drinking, talk with your doctor who can help. It is important to get treatment to stop drinking as soon as possible. There are programs available to help pregnant women stop drinking (for example, “12-step program” of Alcoholics Anonymous) can provide support to quit drinking.

Verywell Family’s content is for informational and educational purposes only. Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Treatment providers are available 24/7 to answer your questions about rehab, whether it’s for you or a loved one. Submit your number and receive a free call today from a treatment provider. Whatever the case, you’re now worried and want to know what damage, if any, drinking in very early pregnancy can do. Or maybe you weren’t trying to get pregnant at all, and it came as a surprise when you realized that your period was over a week late. Now you’re looking at two pink lines on a home pregnancy test and freaking out about the night out with your girlfriends that you enjoyed a few days ago.

There can also be mental and emotional challenges throughout the person’s life that can impact their social life, education and work. One type is not less harmful to the developing baby than another.

Twenty-five percent reported low alcohol consumption, or three to seven drinks per week (“a drink” defined as a glass of wine or a little less than a 12-ounce bottle of beer). Children with FASDs may have a range of problems, including intellectual and developmental disabilities. These are problems with how the brain works that can cause a person to have trouble in learning, communicating, taking care of himself or getting along with others. Binge drinking during pregnancy increases your chances of having a baby with FASDs. Binge drinking is when you drink four or more drinks in 2 to 3 hours. It’s also recommended that you not drink alcohol if you’re sexually active and not using effective birth control.

JA contributed to the acquisition of funding, design of the study, facilitated recruitment and contributed to the revision of the manuscript. WH contributed to the conceptualisation and revision of this manuscript.

Drinking any amount of alcohol at any time during pregnancy can harm your baby’s developing brain and other organs. No amount of alcohol has been proven safe at any time during pregnancy. This is because alcohol enters the bloodstream and passes through the umbilical cord, directly impacting the baby and its development. The more you drink while pregnant, the greater the risk to your unborn baby. Your baby’s brain, heart and blood vessels begin to develop in the early weeks of pregnancy, before you may know you’re pregnant. Unfortunately, that confusion may have contributed to an increase in women drinking during pregnancy. From 2011 to 2018, more women reported drinking while pregnant – both infrequent drinking and binge drinking .

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