Is It Okay to Drink During Pregnancy?

When a woman is pregnant, it may be hard to determine what she can and cannot have in terms of alcoholic beverages. She may hear from her family and friends that one drink every now and then is fine; from others she may hear that she should not consume any alcoholic beverages at all. Too much alcohol can be harmful to the unborn child; studies have been shown to prove that birth defects can occur because of too much drinking. However, if a woman would like to occasionally consume an alcoholic beverage, but is having doubts, the right thing to do is ask her doctor.

Alcohol does in fact pass from the mother’s blood into the baby’s blood and can damage the baby’s cell growth, mostly affecting the brain and spinal cord. For decades, studies have been completed and researchers have acknowledged that heavy drinking while pregnant can in fact cause birth defects. It can lead to the baby being born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a congenital disorder which is the result of too much alcohol that was consumed during pregnancy. Babies born with FAS will suffer throughout their lives with many social and emotional difficulties, intellectual and learning disabilities, and physical challenges. Health risks of FAS to the baby are low birth weight, organ damage, failure to thrive, epilepsy, and other negative bodily functions.

Even if a baby is not born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, it can still be affected by the mother drinking alcohol. Alcohol consumption can cause low birth weight and impact the heart, lungs, and brain. It can also lead to lifelong emotional and physical difficulties as well as academic difficulties in school (Uscher). Many of the statistics out there are showing that moderate to heavy drinking can harm the baby; however, the risks of a mother occasionally drinking a small amount of alcohol are still in question (Uscher).

Even though there may be risks involved in drinking a small amount, many women continue to do so. The CDC recently did a study and discovered that one in eight women, while pregnant, reported consuming at least one beverage per month (Uscher). Since a lot of information about occasional drinking during pregnancy is still unknown, the CDC, the Surgeon General, and other health organizations advise expectant mothers to abstain from it.

Pregnancy is a time where the mother must make her health a top priority. If you are pregnant and consider yourself very healthy by living a healthy lifestyle, but would like a glass of red wine sporadically, your best bet is to ask your physician. Asking your physician and following your strong maternal instincts is the right thing to do for the health of your precious little one.

Source: Uscher, Jen. “WebMD – Better Information. Better Health.” WebMD. WebMD, 2010. Web. 12 June 2015. .

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