Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy

Alcohol has dangerous effects on a growing baby and the mother.

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Alcohol Use And Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an important time in many women’s lives. It signifies the beginning of a new life and addition to the family. While transitioning, she experiences several adjustments and restrictions to ensure a healthy delivery. Her body changes, she experiences mood swings, and experts (licensed or not) begin suggesting advice. Out of the list of medical recommendations, not drinking alcohol may be the most challenging. 

In the United States, alcohol use during pregnancy is on the rise. One out of every eight women drinks while pregnant. Even more concerning is the 4% who binge drink. The reason why this trend is growing is unknown. Experts speculate it may be due to a heated debate between medical professionals, midwives, and moms worldwide. Many believe that an occasional glass of alcohol is okay during pregnancy. However, research suggests that even trace amounts of alcohol can boost the risk of complications. 

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The Dangers Of Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy

The dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy are plentiful. When a woman drinks or eats, she introduces whatever she is ingesting to the growing fetus. Babies depend on their mothers to grow into healthy humans. While in the womb, they receive oxygen and food through their mother’s umbilical cord as well as her blood. When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol enters her bloodstream. The alcohol travels through the umbilical cord to the baby. Once the alcohol passes the placenta, the fetus’ risk of congenital disabilities rise. 

No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. That includes all types of wines, cocktails, or beers. The exposure to any amount of alcohol harms a baby’s development. 

Drinking alcohol while pregnant increases the risk of:

  • Miscarriage
  • Slow fetal growth
  • Stillbirth
  • Premature birth
  • Physical disorders
  • Behavioral problems
  • Intellectual disabilities

Alcohol is damaging to adults, but it is incredibly destructive to a baby’s organs. It can lead to deformities and disabilities. This condition is known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Alcohol use while pregnant can also cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 

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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) a type of FASD and affects about 40,000 American babies annually. The condition causes irreversible growth and brain damage. An early diagnosis can help children receive the therapy they need and reduce difficulties later in life. 

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the inexplicable death of a healthy baby who is less than a year old. The infant typically passes in their sleep. The cause of SIDS is unknown. Researchers believe it may be associated with defects in the hindbrain. The hindbrain coordinates functions like respiratory rhythm, sleep, and wakefulness.

Preventing And Reducing Alcohol-Exposed Pregnancies

Preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies is a priority. By avoiding the consumption of alcohol, FASD and sometimes SIDS are preventable. There are various programs ready to help expectant mothers and their families. Two of the most popular programs are CHOICES and SBI. 

Screening And Brief Intervention (SBI)

Screening And Brief Intervention (SBI) is a preventative service. This survey identifies a patient’s drinking patterns. It begins as a short conversation that takes only a few minutes. Medical professionals incorporate the exam into a mother’s regular checkup or annual physical. 


CHOICES is an alcohol intervention program. The plan is for women who are at a reproductive age but are not pregnant. The evidence-based strategies assist women in reducing their risky levels of alcohol consumption. Participants have the CHOICE of deciding which pattern they would like to change. 

Help For Alcohol Use During Pregnancy 

Alcohol use during pregnancy can lead to serious medical issues. These issues can affect both the developing baby and mother. During pregnancy, there is no safe time or amount of alcohol to drink. If you or someone you know is pregnant and drinking, there is help available. Contact one of our treatment providers and take the next step towards recovery. It is never too late to stop. The sooner a pregnant mother stops consuming alcohol, the better. Reach out to a treatment provider and find rehab-related help today. 

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