Alcohol Use During Pregnancy: Prevalence And Impact National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare

You probably should not drink, for example, if you have liver disease, a history of addiction, or are on any medications that may conflict with alcohol, such as antidepressants. If you or the doctor thinks there could be a problem, ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist (someone who knows about FASDs), such as a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, or clinical geneticist. In some cities, there are clinics whose staffs have special training in diagnosing and treating children with FASDs. To find doctors and clinics in your area, contact FASD United’s (formerly NOFAS) Family Navigator program which provides individuals living with FASDs and their family members and caregivers with expert, confidential support and referrals. It is also thought that alcohol consumption before conception also affects sperm. This could lead to developmental problems for the child in the future, both intellectual and physical.

“If a pregnant woman with low levels of this enzyme drinks, her baby may be more susceptible to harm because the alcohol may circulate in her body for a longer period of time,” Garry tells WebMD. Some doctors recommend that you completely avoid alcohol when you’re expecting; others say that occasional light drinking is unlikely to harm your baby. He can encourage her to abstain alcohol during pregnancy from alcohol by avoiding social situations that involve drinking. Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional.

What Are Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders?

Some pregnant women tell me they feel judged when they have a drink. I am not sure how we got to the point that in May 2016, New York City had to clarify guidelines prohibiting bars and restaurants from refusing to serve alcohol to pregnant women. The guidelines – which also apply to selling and serving foods such as soft cheeses  and raw fish – are intended to discourage discrimination against pregnant women. FASDs and other alcohol-related health conditions happen when you drink during pregnancy. Research is still being done to find out if alcohol harms a man’s sperm before a woman gets pregnant. If you drank alcohol before you knew you were pregnant or before you knew that alcohol could harm your baby, stop drinking now.

One might confide that they enjoyed the occasional beer during their pregnancy and feels their child turned out fine, while another sees this as taking an unnecessary risk. Alcohol use during pregnancy can also lead to miscarriage and stillbirth. NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has an Alcohol Treatment Navigator. The Navigator helps adults find alcohol treatment for themselves or an adult loved one.

Understanding Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Those with alcohol-related birth defect can have structural abnormalities of the heart, kidneys, and bones. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all of the information provided to you during an appointment, especially if you’ve been told that there may be something wrong with your child. Additionally, children with FAS may often have trouble mixing socially in school or similar settings. There have been a number of publicized statements on alcohol use and pregnancy in the past year. Building on a successful 85-year legacy, we support every pregnant person and every family. Yvonne Kelly, PhD, senior lecturer in the department of epidemiology and public health, University College London.

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It’s also difficult to predict the impact of drinking on any given pregnancy because some women have higher levels of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol. “The problem with drinking alcohol during your pregnancy is that there is no amount that has been proven to be safe,” says Jacques Moritz, MD, director of gynecology at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York. Here’s what doctors say pregnant women should keep in mind when deciding whether to drink lightly or to steer clear of alcohol altogether.

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Alcohol can cause problems for the baby throughout pregnancy, including before a woman knows she is pregnant. Alcohol use in the first three months of pregnancy can cause the baby to have abnormal facial features. Growth and central nervous system problems (e.g., low birthweight, behavioral problems) can occur from alcohol use anytime during pregnancy. The baby’s brain is developing throughout pregnancy and can be affected by exposure to alcohol at any time.

The times before, during and after pregnancy are all critical periods for maternal alcohol consumption awareness, reduction, and ideally abstinence. Knowing that fetal alcohol exposure is the most common nongenetic cause of cognitive impairment, it is critical to identify maternal alcohol consumption early as a primary target to prevent downstream FASD. Therefore, innovative research studies are vital to better understand the mechanism of alcohol on pregnancy to then target the development of therapeutic strategies to mitigate its adverse effects and improve maternal and fetal outcomes.

Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking Among Pregnant People in the United States

If you need help to stop drinking alcohol, tell your health care provider right away. The best way to keep your baby safe is to avoid drinking any alcohol when you are pregnant and to get the right support to stop drinking, if you need it. Researchers collected and analyzed information from previous studies to look at whether low-to-moderate alcohol use or binge drinking by women during pregnancy could affect the later development of their children. This is the first meta-analysis of studies of low-to-moderate alcohol use or binge drinking during pregnancy and later cognitive outcomes.

  • This follows the advice of most health organizations focused on pregnancy, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  • Smoking during and after pregnancy also increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • However, the organization also recommends discussing this with a healthcare professional and stopping drinking.

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