Effects of Alcohol on Fetus

by Sharon Hopkins


Women who consume alcohol regularly, during pregnancy may be exposing their unborn babies to harm. Alcohol can pass on from an expectant mother's system, to her baby's blood, damaging the baby's spinal cords and brain cells, affecting the baby's growth adversely. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) refers to the many long term effects of alcoholism that a child may experience, in case the mother drinks heavily or on a regular basis, during the pregnancy period. These effects could include odd facial features, underweight babies with growth problems, behavioral problems or learning disabilities and other birth defects which include body parts like the eyes, bones, ears, lungs, urinary tract or the heart. The use of alcohol during pregnancy can also result in a miscarriage, a stillborn baby or a premature baby.

Alcohol and Early Pregnancy:

Studies have indicated that many women have consumed various amounts of alcohol in the early stages of pregnancy, because they didn't know that they were pregnant. Chances are that the occasional drinks consumed earlier on during the pregnancy will not affect the baby, but there is no guarantee. Unfortunately the defects caused by alcohol consumption may not show up in an ultrasound or other pregnancy tests. Till the baby is born, there is no way to be sure whether he or she would not suffer from the effects of alcohol consumed during pregnancy and this could cause a tremendous amount of stress on an expectant mother. In fact, in some cases, the symptoms of FASD are not evident even when the baby is born. The less severe signs would only be noticed when the child grows a little older. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that even women, who are planning to conceive, avoid any amounts of alcohol. In case you have had alcohol while you were pregnant, it is important that you inform your doctor about it.

Ways to Stop Drinking:

In case you find it difficult to avoid alcohol when you are pregnant, you need to keep your doctor and your other family members informed about it. There are many ways and support systems that could help you in quitting alcohol. First of all, constantly keep thinking of your reason for quitting drinking alcohol – your baby! Remind yourself of what can happen to your child if you do indulge in alcohol and ask yourself if you could live with the guilt if something went wrong. Then, avoid people who drink or force you to drink. If your partner has the habit of drinking regularly, ask him to abstain around you, so that you to are not tempted. Whenever you are hit by the craving to drink, distract yourself by indulging in another activity, like taking a soothing bath or getting a massage, reading, listening to music, and so on. If you suspect that you may have a drinking problem, please inform your doctor or midwife immediately.


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