Drinking While Pregnant
A pregnant mother’s excessive drinking can cause her child severe health problems that follow him or her into adulthood. Because children in the womb are still developing, their livers don’t work well enough to process alcohol the same way an adult liver does.
Any alcohol a mother drinks during pregnancy enters her bloodstream and can reach the baby.
Prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol is the leading preventable cause of birth defects, abnormalities and developmental disabilities in the United States. These birth defects, abnormalities and developmental disabilities are considered Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy also can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).
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According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant. Rather than risk their baby’s health, many mothers-to-be avoid alcohol altogether during pregnancy. Unfortunately, women struggling with alcohol addiction can’t easily stop drinking despite understanding the potential harms. Addicted women who find out they are pregnant need to get help immediately.
Understanding Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Babies born with atypical facial features who grow up to have mood, attention and anger disorders may be suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. Every baby and mother is different, so there is no way to know how alcohol will impact the child.
Experts describe all health problems from alcohol exposure before birth as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). As with other spectrum disorders, not all cases are as extreme as others.
Some of the effects of FASD may include:
- Abnormally small heads and brains
- Heart and spine defects
- Shorter than average height
- Low body weight
- Intellectual disability
- Vision and hearing problems
- Behavioral problems
- Delayed physical development
- Problems with the heart, kidney or bones
- Hyperactive behavior
- Poor memory
- Speech and language delays
- Abnormal facial features
- A smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip
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Alcohol Abuse During Pregnancy
Many doctors maintain any alcohol use during pregnancy is abuse because it can potentially impact the baby. The most severe cases of FAS can be linked to the mother’s excessive drinking during pregnancy.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 10 pregnant women drink; 1 in 50 binge drink.
Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s by a blood alcohol content to 0.08 percent or above, typically achieved by drinking about four drinks in two hours for most women. Tragically, all babies exposed to alcohol in the womb risk developing a lifelong disorder.
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Treatment for Alcoholism in Pregnant Women
If a mother-to-be is struggling with alcohol dependency, there is often more to her situation. Addiction and pregnancy are both delicate topics. It is crucial to handle pregnant women who drink with care and compassion.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction while pregnant, don’t wait to get help. Get in touch with a treatment provider today.