Alcohol During Pregnancy

Alcohol during pregnancy should be avoided. Alcohol, like most things you eat or drink, will freely cross the placenta and reach your baby. Simply stated, when you drink alcohol so does your baby. Drinking alcohol during your pregnancy elevates the possibilities that your baby could be affected by a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). The range of birth defects that fall under FASD are lifelong and may not be reversed or cured. FASDs are 100% preventable.

Quick Notes about alcohol:

Alcohol is a teratogen. These are substances that are known to cause harm during fetal development.

Alcohol reaches your baby. Alcohol will cross the placenta during pregnancy any and every time you drink it during pregnancy.

Any alcohol can be harmful to your baby. There is no safe amount of alcohol to consume while you are pregnant.

Does alcohol affect my baby?

From conception forward, your baby is always growing. The first trimester is the most vulnerable for your baby. Your baby’s heart, brain, central nervous system, eyes and limbs are growing. Your baby is rapidly growing in size during the third trimester. Drinking alcohol, particularly excessive amounts, during the heightened points of development, you are putting your baby at risk for problems.

The more amounts of alcohol you drink during pregnancy the greater chance your baby will have of developing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effects. These conditions may not be reversed and they will last a life time. Alcohol can create physical, mental and neurobehavioral birth defects.

What if I drank alcohol before I knew I was pregnant?

It is a common situation to have been drinking at a party, dinner, or some special occasion and then discover you are pregnant shortly after. Although there are no amounts of alcohol that are deemed safe; if you stop the likelihood that something has occurred is not high. The most important thing now is to stop drinking. The earlier you quit drinking the greater chance you have of not causing any FASD related birth defects.

Is there any safe amount of alcohol to drink?

There is no known amount of alcohol that is safe to consume during pregnancy, but the more you drink the greater the chances are that your baby will experience problems or alcohol related birth defects.

Alcohol addiction or need help stopping?

The good news is that you can get help to stop drinking. If your are pregnant and having trouble stopping or you know you are addicted to alcohol, you can get help from the following organizations:

  • National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information (800-729-6686)
  • National Alcohol & Drug HopeLine 1-800-NCA-CALL (622-2255)

If you would like to know more about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome you can call the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome at 1-800-66-NOFAS (666-6327)

Last Updated: 07/2008


Compiled using information from the following sources:

March of Dimes, http://www.marchofdimes.com/

Department of Health & Human Services, http://www.hhs.gov/

American Pregnancy Association, Alcohol and Pregnancy, http://www.americanpregnancy.org

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