Drinking alcohol in pregnancy: the real deal
There are lots of mixed messages out there as to what’s a safe amount of alcohol to drink in pregnancy and so I wanted to break down this contentious issue for you! To save you scouring the internet for answers, here is everything you need to know using the most up to date, evidence-based information. How can alcohol impact pregnancy? Ethanol is a compound in alcohol that crosses over the placenta to baby. It can have a huge impact on their development and affect every cell and organ in their body. If a pregnant woman drinks alcohol her baby may suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). This is an umbrella term for a set of mental, physical and neuro-behavioural impairments. In addition, alcohol can cause miscarriage, preterm labour and stillbirth. It’s actually thought to cause more damage to an unborn baby than any other drug! What is fetal alcohol syndrome?
This condition falls under the FASD umbrella and can affect a baby if alcohol is consumed during the first trimester. It involves permanent structural changes in the brain, learning and behavioural problems and they may or may not exhibit certain facial features. These are subtle, for example, a flat nasal bridge, an upturned nose, a smooth philtrum (skin between the mouth and nose) and a thin upper lip. How many babies are affected by FASD? According to the World Health Organisation, it's thought that 1% of babies are born with issues directly related to alcohol. That's a lot of babies! How much alcohol is safe to drink in pregnancy?
Alcohol affects unborn babies in different ways and there is no proven safe time to drink alcohol or amount. The only risk-free approach is to avoid it entirely during pregnancy. Of course at the end of the day it's your choice, but now you have all the information you need to make an informed decision. If you've drunk a small amount during pregnancy before finding out you were pregnant, be reassured, your baby is unlikely to come to any harm.