Although it has long been known that alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy, the specifics have become clearer. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant need to make plans about their use of alcohol. Sometimes alcohol can lead to FAS — fetal alcohol system.
Alcohol has many negative effects on babies in the womb. Alcohol passes directly to the fetus through the mother’s blood. However, the baby’s body has less ability to process alcohol than the mother’s. Also, alcohol tends to linger in the fetus longer than in the mother’s body.
Risk of Outward Deformities
Outward deformities are possible. These can include a smaller sized head, smaller eyes and other facial abnormalities, dysfunction of organs, and even epilepsy. In addition, there can be a low birth weight, heart defects, and mental retardation. Mothers who drink also have a greater risk of stillborn or miscarriages.
Other problems are also possible. For example, delayed development can be one of the major problems. The baby might have problems with motor skills and coordination. There may be problems with socialization skills, understanding of language or abstract concepts such as time or money. The baby might have difficulty making or maintaining friendships. There could also be difficulties with lack of curiosity and lack of imagination.
How Much Alcohol
Women might wonder how much alcohol is too much. Experts have not set definite limits on the amount of alcohol. Most will say that one drink does not invite a significant risk. At the same time, all recommend abstaining from alcohol completely during pregnancy as the wisest course.
When Is Alcohol Consumed
Pregnancies are divided into three trimesters. Significant alcohol use during each trimester results in risks to slightly different classes of problems. In the first trimester, the effect of alcohol can be the most severe as that is when the brain is first developing. However, the second and third trimester are important for the development of more complex or higher functions.
Later in Life
Children who were exposed to alcohol in the womb have problems early on. However, studies show that as they get older, these children are more likely to have problems at school, with the law, and lack of ability to live independently. These children have a lifetime of hurdles involving hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and fear.
Child Pushes for Some Accountability
Recently, a child pushed a motion in court to be compensated for her mother’s drinking. A series of cases wound its way through courts of higher jurisdiction. The child, whose name is concealed, suffers from the long-term effects of FAS.
Despite some compelling arguments, the courts ultimately rejected the child’s claim. Although it was clear the child had suffered problems from alcohol, due to technicalities in the law, the damage had not happened because of intentional violence. In addition, the child’s claim was rejected because the damage happened during pregnancy and the child was a fetus at that time and not living separately, outside, the mother’s body.
In short, women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should adopt healthy behaviors about nutrition, lifestyle, and alcohol use before becoming pregnant or as early as possible in the start of the pregnancy. Alcohol use at any amount carries risk and women should avoid alcohol as much as possible. Further, women and all adults are advised to consider alcohol-associated health risks, which cover a wide spectrum, beyond focusing exclusively on pregnancy and alcohol.
- Women should avoid alcohol during pregnancy.
- Alcohol passes directly to the fetus through the mother’s blood.
- Physical deformities are quite likely.
- Developmental problems are likely.
- No amount of alcohol is said to be “too much,” but experts advise avoiding alcohol completely.
- Each trimester carries different kinds of risks from alcohol use.
- As children grow up, they will have problems with socialization, abstract concepts, and a lack of imagination.
- Later in life, children who were exposed to alcohol in the womb may have problems with the law and living independently.
- Courts reject a child’s claim against the mother for damages from FAS — mostly via technicalities.
- It is best to adopt a healthy lifestyle for the long term as a good preventative step for both pregnancies and outside of pregnancies.
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