In this day and age, there are very few who don’t realize that it’s dangerous to drink alcohol while you are pregnant. We know that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to birth defects. Still, recent studies conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have shown that over 7% of pregnant women in the United States do drink during their pregnancies.
The studies showed some surprising trends. Among the women studied, the most likely to drink while pregnant were those who are:
- College grads
- Employed women
- Older (from 35-44 years old)
Given that a large number of women who are drinking while pregnant are older and educated (and should know better), it might be a good idea to have a brief primer on the effects of drinking while pregnant.
Most people are at least vaguely aware of fetal alcohol syndrome, the most common birth defect. What some may not be aware of is there are actually many birth defects related to alcohol, collectively referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders or FASD. These disorders include:
- Fetal alcohol syndrome. This can affect the unborn child’s hearing and vision. It can also lead to a variety of learning defects and memory problems, growth problems, and problems with the central nervous system. In some cases, it also leads to abnormalities in the child’s facial features.
- Fetal death. Drinking while pregnant can actually kill an unborn baby.
- Alcohol related neurodevelopment disorders. These can affect the unborn baby’s cognitive abilities, leading to a number or learning and developmental disorders. It can also lead to emotional impairments.
- Alcohol Related Birth Defects. These range from skeletal abnormalities to major organ defects. The organs most commonly affected are the kidneys and the heart. The auditory system and bone structure can also be affected.
Studies do suggest that light or occasional drinking is less likely to result in birth defects than binge drinking. However, medical professionals are agreed that there is no amount of alcohol that is safe to drink during pregnancy.
If you are drinking during your pregnancy, or are tempted to do so, contact your doctor or health care professional for his or her recommendations. Whatever it takes, don’t drink while you’re pregnant.