Drinking alcohol during pregnancy:
There are many false beliefs surrounding drinking alcohol during pregnancy. It is said that drinking little, or doing it in the early stages of pregnancy, has no incidence. That’s not true. In all cases, drinking alcohol during pregnancy carries serious risks.
Research published in The Lancet Global Health exposed a worrying landscape around alcohol use during pregnancy. According to this study, there are five countries where this phenomenon occurs with great frequency and all of them are European.
Research indicates that 60% of Irish women consume alcohol during pregnancy. They are followed by Belarus, with 47%; Denmark, with 46%; the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with 41%; and the Russian Federation, with 37%.
The same study indicates that one in 67 women who consume alcohol during pregnancy will give birth to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. There is no specific factor that allows us to predict in which cases the syndrome will occur and in which it will not. It’s like a sinister lottery.
Alcohol during pregnancy
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to several conditions known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). These are the first preventable cause of birth defects and developmental abnormalities in children.
As is clear, alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to serious deficiencies, both at birth and in development. These are life-long health problems with unpredictable consequences.
Drinking alcohol is dangerous because it passes from mother to baby through the umbilical cord. This results in problems ranging from miscarriage and fetal death to disabilities and abnormalities such as the following :
- Smaller head.
- Shorter than average height.
- Facial abnormalities
- Low body weight
- Hyperactivity problems.
- Coordination, memory, concentration, reasoning, and judgment deficiencies.
- Learning difficulties.
- Speech and language delays.
- Low IQ.
- Vision and hearing problems.
- Health problems in the heart, kidneys, and bones.
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Moderation in drinking?
Some women mistakenly think that drinking just a few drinks, or drinking a low-alcohol liquor, will not affect the baby. This is false. All alcohol ingestion is potentially dangerous in each of the stages of pregnancy. However, ingestion is most harmful during the first three months of pregnancy.
Beer, wine, or cocktails are not as safe as they all contain alcohol. The risk of generating serious consequences is very high in those women who only drink alcohol once, in large quantities, during pregnancy. Also in those who drink small amounts very frequently.
The more alcohol is drunk during pregnancy, the greater the risks of giving birth to a child with abnormalities. However, just one intake can lead to serious consequences. As already noted, a factor of chance operates that is unpredictable.
Fetal alcohol syndrome
Fetal alcohol syndrome is a disorder that presents the children of mothers who consumed alcohol during pregnancy. It causes brain damage and developmental problems. The most serious thing is that the defects caused by this syndrome are irreversible.
Fetal alcohol syndrome symptoms vary in severity from case to case. These include physical abnormalities, cognitive problems, and psychosocial difficulties. Children who are diagnosed with the syndrome early have a better prognosis than others.
Previously, it was believed that a mother who consumed alcohol during pregnancy only gave rise to a child with problems when he had visible deformities. Today it is known that, although there are no such deformities, or they are not so evident, the cognitive and psychosocial effects can be devastating.
Data to take into account
A woman should stop drinking alcohol not only when she is pregnant, but also when she is trying to get pregnant. The exact time of fertilization is not known, and therefore you could already be pregnant when you drink liquor.
At the moment it is not known what is the incidence of alcohol in male sperm. The information available indicates that only the mother’s alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
If a woman is an alcoholic and becomes pregnant, she should seek help as soon as possible to stop drinking. Some drink and have normal children, but each pregnancy is unique. So perhaps one of the children is not born with problems, but others may have abnormalities.