During pregnancy, women hear a lot about good nutrition—getting enough folate, enough iron, and enough calcium, just to name a few. But a healthy pregnancy also depends on avoiding a few things as well. Alcohol is one of these things.
A severe result of excess alcohol intake during pregnancy is
fetal alcohol syndrome
. Babies with this condition have physical and mental birth defects that last a lifetime. However, smaller amounts of alcohol can also have lasting, negative effects on your baby. Alcohol can interfere with your baby's growth. Alcohol can also cause physical and behavioral problems for your child that can last for the rest of his or her life.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Children with fetal alcohol syndrome may be born small. In addition, they have difficulty with many basic functions and tasks, such as the following:
Eating and sleeping
Seeing and hearing
Following directions and learning how to do simple
Paying attention and learning in school
Getting along with others
Most children with fetal alcohol syndrome need medical care for their whole lives. They also need extra help at school and may need to go to a special school.
Questions about Alcohol and Pregnancy
1. Can I drink alcohol if I am pregnant?
No. Do not drink alcohol when you are pregnant. When you drink
alcohol, it is passed on to your baby. Everything you drink, your baby also
2. Is any kind of alcohol safe to drink during
No. Drinking any kind of alcohol when you are pregnant can hurt
your baby. Alcoholic drinks are beer, wine, wine coolers, liquor,
and mixed drinks.
3. What if I drank during my last pregnancy and my baby was
Every pregnancy is different. Drinking alcohol may hurt one baby
more than another. You could have one child that is born healthy,
and another child that is born with problems.
4. Will these problems go away?
No. The damage to a developing baby caused by alcohol will last for a child's whole life. Children with
severe problems may not be able to take care of themselves as
adults. They may never be able to work or do things on their own.
5. What if I am pregnant or trying to become pregnant and have been drinking?
If you drank alcohol before you knew you were pregnant, stop
drinking now. You will feel better and your baby will have a good
chance to be born healthy. If you want to get pregnant, do not
drink alcohol. You may not know you are pregnant right away.
Alcohol can hurt a baby even when you are only 1 or 2 months
6. How can I stop drinking?
There are many ways to help yourself stop drinking. First, do not keep alcohol at home. Second, if you tend to drink when you socialize with friends and family, tell your friends and family that you need to quit while you are pregnant and ask for their support. Have a glass of juice, water, or lemonade instead of an alcoholic drink. If this is difficult, avoid situations where you would normally drink.
If you cannot stop drinking, get help. You may have a serious problem. There are many alcohol treatment programs that can help you stop drinking. Your healthcare provider, social worker, or religious leader can help find a program to help you. Even if you
have been through a treatment program before, try it again. There
are programs just for women. You can get help from a doctor, nurse,
social worker, religious leader, or clinics and programs near you.
See the Resources below for more information on dealing with a drinking problem.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a