Effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy
There is no safe time and quantity to drink alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol can cause problems for the developing baby throughout pregnancy, including before a woman knows she is pregnant. This is because alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord through the placenta. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioural, and intellectual disabilities. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). No alcohol (wine, beer, or spirits) is safe during any trimester of pregnancy.
The embryo or unborn baby’s liver is one of the last organs to develop and does not mature until the later stages of pregnancy. The unborn baby cannot process alcohol as well as you can, and too much exposure to alcohol can seriously affect their development. Drinking alcohol, especially in the first 3 months of pregnancy, increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and your baby having a low birthweight. Drinking after the first 3 months of your pregnancy could affect your baby after they’re born and the risks are greater the more you drink.
Here are the damages alcohol consumption during pregnancy cause for your unborn child;
- Miscarriage (fetus dies before the 20th week of pregnancy)
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Abnormal facial features, like smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip (this ridge is called the philtrum)
- Birth defects (hearing issues or heart defects)
- Small head size
- Shorter-than-average height
- Learning disabilities
- Speech delay
- Intellectual disability
- Vision or hearing problems
- Difficulty with attention
- Poor memory
- Poor reasoning and judgment skills
- Poor coordination
- Hyperactive behavior
- Difficulty in school (especially with math)
- Sleep and sucking problems as a baby
If the child is born the child may be placed at risk of developing a dependence on alcohol or other substances, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). If an infant or school-aged child was exposed to alcohol before birth, they may not exhibit physical characteristics, but will still experience behavioural and cognitive difficulties.