Whether or not women should drink alcohol during pregnancy has been debated for long. Several studies have conducted regarding this issue, but none has come up with any conclusive result. During 1950’s, there used to be no reason to worry for the pregnant women to go for a drink or two or having light drinking. Also later in the 1960’s, some doctors, advocated in favour of drinking during pregnancy as they believed that, it helps in avoiding premature labour.
But in the 1970’s, drinking alcohol during pregnancy was declared harmful for the baby. It was believed that drinking could cause malformations or abnormalities in the embryo.
Though the guidelines regarding consumption of alcohol have continuously been changes over time, the fundamental question has never been categorically answered.
Effects of consuming Alcohol during Pregnancy
Alcohol is a toxin. It is very much understandable that, whatever the mother eats / drink, it travels in the bloodstream and reaches to the baby through the placenta via feto- maternal circulation. The toxic chemicals may cause sudden fatal demise, miscarriage, and low growth.
Consuming alcohol increases your baby’s chances of having the following listed problems:
- Premature Birth: Premature birth happens when your baby is born before 37- weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies are endangered with serious health concerns with the later stage of their growth and development.
- Brain damage: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause serious damage to the brain, alcohol is known to destroy brain cell.
- Birth defects: The baby may born with birth defects like- heart defects, hearing problems, or vision problems. The birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body, eventually affecting the overall health of the baby like—how the body develops, or the bodily functions of the child.
- Foetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Also known as FADS, occur during foetus development especially during the first trimester if a pregnant woman consumes alcohol. Studies have shown that any use of alcohol by pregnant women increases the risk of giving birth to a baby with a physical or mental disorder. Here are some characteristics of the children who are born with Foetal alcohol spectrum disorders:
- Intellectual disabilities
- Abnormal physical features- especially head and facial features
- Physical ailments including organs, hearing and eyesight
- Intellectual disabilities and disorders.
- Delays in physical development
The primary effect of FADS is that it usually lasts lifetime. It doesn’t matter if you are a binge drinker or heavy drinker, alcohol during pregnancy increases the chances of risk by 10%.
- Lower Birth weight: Lower birth weight is also known as LBW and happen when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds and 8 ounces.
- Miscarriage: This occurs when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Still birth: It happens when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Metabolic factors: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy not only affect the baby but causes more harm to the mother. Under normal pregnancy, there is a huge risk that due to metabolic factors, liver functions of the mother may get altered.
Studies: Alcohol and Pregnancy
An Associate Clinical, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, stated that during pregnancy, the brain of the baby constantly develops. Therefore consumption of alcohol during pregnancy may have an adverse effect on the development of the baby as it is well known that, alcohol directly affects the cells of the brain.
Experts have also stated that Alcohol must be considered forbidden for those women who are suffering from liver problems, have any previous history of addiction, or are under any medication, such as- antidepressants, etc. It is also suggested that the women who are breastfeeding should abstain drinking.
What about light drinking in pregnancies
There is no evidence to suggest that, drinking even small amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe. While some studies have suggested that light drinking during pregnancy isn’t harmful to your baby, on the other hand, studies have also shown that any amount of alcohol is dangerous.
The department of health recommends that women should avoid alcohol completely throughout pregnancy. This advice is also applicable to those women who are trying to conceive.
What can be drunk instead of alcohol?
Alcohol and pregnancy cannot go hand in hand. There are numerous ways that can be done instead of drinking. Some of them are- replacing the glass of beer or wine with other stress-reducing methods such as- taking a warm bath, listening to soft music, beauty treatment, doing exercise, reading books and much more.
To conclude, till the time researchers come up with clear evidences, pregnant women have to judge for themselves regarding the future consequences of consuming alcohol during pregnancy.