Pregnancy & Alcohol: Know the Facts

Fact: When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol so too does her unborn baby

Alcohol consumed by a pregnant woman moves into her blood stream and is carried through the placental tissue that separates the mother and baby’s blood systems, delivering the alcohol directly to the developing tissues of the fetus. The alcohol can reach the baby within 20 minutes after she has taken a drink. The alcohol is toxic for the unborn baby and it may damage any of its organs. Alcohol is especially devastating for the baby’s brain development as it crosses the blood-brain barrier with ease. For this reason, babies exposed to alcohol during pregnancy are at risk of permanent brain damage.

Fact: There is no safe amount of alcohol for a woman to drink during pregnancy

There is no known safe amount of alcohol pregnant women can drink without taking the risk of damaging their unborn babies. The effects of alcohol can damage the fetus throughout pregnancy and are not isolated to a particular time during the nine month term. All expectant mothers who drink alcohol are at risk of producing a baby with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Fact: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is 100% preventable

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an umbrella term which includes all possible disorders associated with prenatal alcohol exposure. The severity of the FASD depends on the quantity and timing of the mother’s drinking during her pregnancy, together with numerous other factors such as: the mothers’ body mass index, age, food consumption at the time the alcohol was ingested, genetics, and other drugs such as smoking. Moderate to heavy or binge drinking is associated with a mother having a baby with FASD. Heavy drinking is defined as an average of about two standard drinks per day during pregnancy or 14 drinks per week. Binge drinking is defined as at least five standard drinks on any occasion. Of all the substances of abuse, including heroin, cocaine and marijuana, alcohol produces the most serious lifelong neurobehavioural damage to an unborn baby. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the most severe form of FASD and is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation in the world. The prevention? Zero alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Pregnant? Don’t drink. Know someone who is pregnant and drinking alcohol? Be kind to her and her unborn baby by teaching her the facts.

Source: ARA