Pregnancy & Alcohol

#7 Small Talk 2019

Should you have that
glass of wine?

Keeping to my theme of you and your body during pregnancy, did you know that when you drink alcohol, whether it is wine, beer or spirits, then your unborn baby is also “drinking” it? According to the National Organisation on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (in the USA) there is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant. There is also no known safe time during pregnancy or any type of safe alcohol. In addition, the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity or sudden infant death syndrome is increased by drinking even small amounts of alcohol according to evidence-based research by The American Academy of Pediatrics https://www.nofas.org/light-drinking/.

Let’s focus on Foetal Alcohol
Syndrome or FAS, as it is known

Do you know
what the most preventable form of mental disability in the world is? Yes, you
guessed it – it is FAS! The simple truth is that it is so easy to prevent this
form of mental disability – all you have to do is to not drink alcohol during
your pregnancy – simple, not so? FAS doesn’t care whether you are “upper
class”, “middle class” or from the poorer echelons of society. It can happen to
ANY child whose mother drank alcohol when she was pregnant. The horrifying thing
is that FAS is more common than Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida and Autism
combined! The damage done to a child is permanent and cannot be reversed. Just
stop reading for a moment and think about that before you raise that glass of
wine to your lips if you are pregnant.

But what exactly is FAS?

An unborn
baby “drinks” alchol when his or her mom drinks alcohol! The alcohol drunk by
mom passes into her bloodstream and the developing baby gets his “drink” as the
alcohol is carried through the placental tissue directly to him or her.
Unfortunately, alcohol can easily cross the blood/brain barrier and this can be
devastating to the development of your baby’s brain. This damage can occur at
any stage of your pregnancy – it is not isolated to the first trimester as many
women believe. The severity of damage seems to depend on the quantity and
timing of a mom’s drinking and is combined with several other factors such as
the mom’s body mass index, age and the food eaten at the time of drinking. All
pregnant women who drink alcohol are at risk of having a baby with foetal
alcohol syndrome.

Another
frightening fact is that of all the substances of abuse alcohol produces the most
serious lifelong neurological and behavioural damage to an unborn baby. The
damage inflicted on the baby surpasses the damage done by abuse of heroin,
cocaine and dagga.

Three myths about alcohol consumption
during pregnancy

  • Myth #1: there is
    no evidence of any effects from just one drink

During an interview with Dr.
Michael Charness
of Harvard Medical School, the concentration of
alcohol in a woman’s blood after even just one alcoholic drink shows a very
striking effect on a critical developmental molecule (called the L1 adhesion
molecule)

  • Myth#2: A little
    bit of wine helps reduce stress and can be healthy while pregnant

Whereas an expectant mom may well feel less stressed after
drinking a glass of wine, you have to remember the potential risk to the
developing baby. Scientific and medical research have shown that alcohol use
has the potential to cause both physical and functional damage to a growing
baby – so why take the chance?

  • Myth#3: Only
    physical deformities are caused by alcohol, so if the baby looks normal
    it’s fine

Over 85% of children who have been exposed to alcohol during
mom’s pregnancy have NO physical birth defects, only cognitive and/or
behavioural consequences. Sometimes the most subtle of these effects are not
even diagnosed as alcohol-related

Conclusion

I have just touched briefly on the possible harmful effect of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. There is much more written about pregnancy and alcohol and I would strongly suggest to any pregnant woman that she educate herself about FAS. One source of information is the National Organisation on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome https://www.nofas.org/light-drinking/. FAS one horrible complication for our child that we, as women, CAN avoid by just abstaining from alcohol until baby is born, strong, healthy and free from foetal alcohol syndrome.

Yours in
lifestyle newborn photography

Lydia

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