Pregnancy and Alcohol Do Not Mix

If you are pregnant, planning to be pregnant, or of child bearing age with the possibility of becoming pregnant, it is of utmost importance to avoid consuming any amount or form of alcohol, including wine, beer, or liquor. Here is why: A new report, released on September 19th 2015, by the American Academy of Pediatrics, warns that “No amount of alcohol should be considered safe to drink during any trimester of pregnancy”.  This position is held by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists  and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is also held by almost every other developed country, according to the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking.

Pregnancy and Alcohol don’t mix. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can cause lifelong brain damage and other birth defects.  It has been identified as the leading preventable cause of birth defects and cognitive problems later on in the life of the exposed baby. Such a child has an increased risk of problems relating to heart, bones, kidneys, hearing and vision functions. The child is also at risk of neurodevelopment issues such as problems with abstract reasoning, information processing, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. 

Past studies have shown a relationship between prenatal exposure to alcohol and a decrease in the size of a part of the brain called cerebellum, according to Rajesh Miranda, an associate professor of neuroscience and therapeutics at Texas A&M Health Science Center. The exposure to alcohol has also been linked to pregnancy complications including miscarriage, premature birth and still birth.

According to the recent findings, Women who drank in their first trimester were 12 times more likely to have a child with the above challenges compared to women who didn’t drink at all. First- and second-trimester drinking increased the risk 61 times, and women who drank during all three trimesters increased the risk by 65 times. 

Abstracts from the newly released clinical report:

  • Alcohol-related birth defects and developmental disabilities are completely preventable when pregnant women abstain from alcohol use.
  • Neurocognitive and behavioral problems resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure are lifelong.
  • Early recognition, diagnosis, and therapy for any condition along the FASD continuum can result in improved outcomes.
  • During pregnancy:
    • no amount of alcohol intake should be considered safe;
    • there is no safe trimester to drink alcohol;
    • all forms of alcohol, such as beer, wine, and liquor, pose similar risk; and
    • binge drinking poses dose-related risk to the developing fetus.

References

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/10/13/peds.2015-3113

https://www.iard.org/Policy/Policy-Resources/Policy-Tables-by-Country/Drinking-Guidelines-for-Pregnancy-and-Breastfeeding

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Tobacco-Alcohol-Drugs-and-Pregnancy

https://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/24/health/gallery/new-studies-results-are-in/

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