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Alcohol and Pregnancy

Babies and booze


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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If you choose to smoke or drink when pregnant then your unborn child will also feel the effects.

Both you and your baby deserve the best chance of good health and you must remember that you are responsible for the health of your baby. So you need to think seriously about the effects of alcohol and smoking on both you and the unborn baby.

What happens if you drink alcohol when pregnant?

  • Every time you drink alcohol when pregnant your baby does too. The alcohol goes through your bloodstream and passes into your baby's blood via the placenta. This can lead to brain damage, as alcohol interferes with the baby’s ability to get enough oxygen to his/her brain.
  • Drinking while pregnant can cause your baby to be born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. This can cause serious physical and mental problems. A person born with this condition may have serious disabilities and require lifelong care as a result. Scientists and doctors still do not know just how much or how little alcohol will cause this syndrome, so it is better to just avoid drinking any alcohol at all.
  • Drinking increases the chances that your baby won’t grow properly. Your baby is likely to be smaller than average in weight and height. This may affect the baby’s chance of survival.
  • You are more likely to miscarry if you drink alcohol. According to one large Danish study, even moderate levels of drinking can increase the risk of miscarriage during the first trimester.
  • Your baby might also have problems later, like learning difficulties or being hyperactive.

How much is too much?

  • There is NO safe amount of alcohol you can drink when pregnant.
  • The best thing to do is to stop drinking alcohol altogether when pregnant or when trying to become pregnant.
  • The most dangerous time to drink alcohol is in the first three months of pregnancy.
  • Heavy drinking (five or more drinks in one day) means your baby risks being born with brain damage or other birth defects.
  • If you are breast-feeding alcohol will pass to your baby through the milk. If you want a drink during this time, wait until after feeding the baby. Remember, a normal drink takes an hour to leave the body.
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Published February 20th, 2013
Last updated March 31st, 2017
Tags pregnancy alcohol drink
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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