Drinking Alcohol in Pregnancy
Babies exposed to alcohol in pregnancy can develop Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, which include a wide range of physical, behavioral and learning problems. This is completely avoidable if you don’t drink alcohol while you are pregnant. Experts are still unsure exactly how much alcohol is safe for you to drink while you are pregnant so it is better and safer not to drink at all.
A baby in the womb gets all its nourishment from the mother’s bloodstream through the placenta. If the mother drinks alcohol, it easily passes from her blood through to her baby’s blood. A baby’s liver is one of the last organs to develop fully and does not mature until the later stages of pregnancy. This means that a baby cannot process alcohol as well as an adult.
Alcohol damages the important cells in the baby’s body that are necessary for growth and also disrupts the connection of the nerves in the brain. The damage to the cells results in poor growth, smaller body size and a delay in development.
People with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) face physical, behavioural and cognitive challenges for the rest of their lives. These are often misinterpreted as misbehaviour, willful misconduct or deliberate disobedience, when it is often just the opposite.
Alcohol is potentially most harmful for the baby in the first three months of pregnancy. At this stage it is linked to miscarriage and birth abnormalities, However, alcohol can harm a baby at any stage of pregnancy and large amounts, for example binge drinking, is more harmful than drinking in small amounts. However, it is best to remember that there is no safe level of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.