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How Does Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy Affect the Baby?

Whatever you eat or drink is shared with your baby. Foods and liquids quickly pass from you to your child through the placenta. This is why it’s important to consume nutritious foods and juices during pregnancy. However, just as these substances reach your baby, so does alcohol. Alcohol can have detrimental effects on your developing baby. A fetus can’t process alcohol the same way an adult can. The alcohol is more concentrated in a fetus and can prevent sufficient amounts of nutrients and oxygen from reaching their vital organs.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause abnormal fetal development and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is a congenital condition characterized by mental and physical defects. Infants with FAS may experience withdrawal symptoms of jitteriness, irritability, and poor feeding within 12 hours after delivery. Since FAS covers a wide range of problems, there are many possible symptoms. These include:

  • a small head
  • facial abnormalities, such as a cleft palate, thin upper lip, or wide-set eyes
  • dental malformations
  • intellectual disability
  • delayed development
  • difficulties with speech, movement, and social skills
  • vision impairment
  • poor coordination
  • heart problems
  • kidney defects and abnormalities
  • deformed limbs or fingers
  • below average height and weight
  • behavioral disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • To protect your baby from alcohol-related danger, you should not drink any alcohol while you’re pregnant. Drinking during the first three months of pregnancy is especially dangerous. This is the time when important organ development occurs. For this reason, you should stop drinking alcohol if you plan on becoming pregnant in the near future. Several weeks may pass before you know you’re pregnant. You don’t want to risk drinking a toxic substance during a very important time in your baby’s development.



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