Pregnancy and Alcohol

What amount of Alcohol is Safe during Pregnancy?

Answer: None. Pregnancy and Alcohol are a very bad combination. If the mother does NOT drink alcohol during pregnancy then all of the possible medical disorders related to alcohol consumption are avoided. This is the “safe” amount of alcohol – none.

There are no scientific studies that I am aware of that have tested alcohol levels in unborn children. To conduct such a study would have huge moral and ethical obstacles. So the scientific answer is that there are no known “safe” levels of alcohol in unborn, developing children. Actually, the only safe level is zero.

When a woman drinks during pregnancy the alcohol is absorbed into her blood and then passes through the placenta and umbilical cord to the unborn baby. While the mother’s liver is usually fully functional and can break down the alcohol in the mother’s blood over hours, the baby’s liver is undeveloped and incapable of breaking down the alcohol.

The Risks of Pregnancy and Alcohol

Unfortunately a recent CDC survey given to pregnant women in the United States found that about 12% of them drank at least one drink in the month prior to the survey. Another survey found that 2% of pregnant women binge drink. There is absolutely no way for doctors or scientists to predict how much damage is being done to the unborn children with any level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The damage is assessed for years after the child is born.

For many years doctors have known that moderate or heavy drinking by the mother can lead to a variety of medical disorders for the unborn child. These medical conditions fall into a category called fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Below are some of the more common medical disorders of FASD.

  • small head size
  • abnormal facial features
  • organ damage
  • brain damage
  • spinal defects
  • vision damage
  • hearing damage
  • learning disabilities
  • speech and language disabilities
  • behavioral problems

There are no benefits associated with drinking during pregnancy. Therefore, Be Cautious – don’t drink – you will have nothing to regret later in life.