It sounds like you already have a good sense of what’s at stake here, and we assume you’re no longer drinking. But to avoid any chance of confusion, if you are still drinking alcohol, we urge you to quit.
Most professional medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, advise women that there is no amount of alcohol consumption that can be considered safe during pregnancy. The main reason doctors strongly recommend that pregnant women (as well as women who are trying to conceive or who may become pregnant) not drink is that alcohol can have serious consequences.
The collection of physical, physiological, neurological, and developmental issues that affect a person who has experienced exposure to alcohol in utero is called fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
With FASD there’s an increased risk of low birth weight, miscarriage, and stillbirth. And problems for a child may begin early and persist into and throughout adulthood:
- Growth deficiencies.
- Learning disorders.
- Attention disorders.
- Impaired cognitive and intellectual development.
- Emotional impulsivity.
- Behavioral problems.
These can lead to difficulties in carrying out important life tasks:
- Personal self-care.
- Making appropriate financial decisions.
- Keeping track of time.
- Associating actions with consequences.
- Being aware of personal safety.
We don’t offer this information to scare you. None of it means you’ve done harm to your baby. While no level of fetal alcohol exposure is known to be safe, research suggests that the risk of fetal harm increases as alcohol consumption by the mother increases. In other words, if a pregnant woman’s alcohol intake is low and infrequent, it’s highly unlikely that she has caused harm to her baby. Still, that doesn’t mean you should keep drinking – or start drinking if you’ve stopped.
To reduce your baby’s risks as much as possible, stay away from alcohol during the remainder of your pregnancy. And to get more specific answers to your questions and concerns, make an appointment with your health care professional.
We also invite you to call Focus on the Family’s Counseling department for a free consultation if you’d like to discuss your situation at greater length. Our licensed counselors would be glad to help you in any way they can.
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