Is it dangerous to drink alcohol during pregnancy?
It is old knowledge that alcohol consumption during pregnancy can be dangerous for the baby. In ancient Greece it was forbidden by law for newlyweds under 30 to drink wine or spirits because of the danger of giving birth to alcohol-damaged children! In modern times, this has been confirmed in numerous research reports. It is not possible to set a safe lower limit where we know that alcohol does not affect the child. Therefore, pregnant women should not drink any alcohol at all, and one should consider their alcohol habits already when trying to get pregnant.
What happens when the pregnant drinker?
When a pregnant woman drinks the alcohol is quickly absorbed into her blood. The baby receives nourishment from the woman’s blood, through the placenta and umbilical cord. This means that after a few minutes there will be the same amount of alcohol in the baby’s blood as in the mother’s blood. In the mother, the alcohol is gradually broken down by the liver converting it into acetaldehyde and then into harmless acetic acid. The fetus has an immature liver and does not yet have a fully developed ability to break down alcohol. This means that some time after the alcohol intake, the child actually has a higher headache than the mother and the intoxication also lasts longer.
What effect does alcohol have on the child
The fetal brain develops throughout pregnancy, but the biggest and most important changes occur early in pregnancy. A variety of drugs and diseases, such as rubella, can cause serious brain damage if the fetus is exposed to it early in pregnancy. Even when it comes to alcohol, the brain is most susceptible to injury during the first few months. The problem is that we do not know how much or how little is needed for injuries to occur.
The risk of injury increases the more and more often the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. Damage that children can suffer from alcohol during pregnancy goes from concentration difficulties and learning problems to brain damage and severe developmental disorders.
When an alcoholic gives birth, about every third child has so-called fetal alcohol syndrome. This is characterized by facial changes with eyes that are far apart, flat nose and changed lip. In addition, most people have a mental impairment, and many have malformations in the internal organs.
Alcohol consumption in pregnant women
If you have been drinking alcohol during pregnancy because you did not know you were pregnant, or because you did not know the risks of using alcohol during pregnancy, the advice is clear: The most important thing now is that you do not drink alcohol during the rest of the pregnancy. Every day you refrain from drinking alcohol will help give your child a better start.
Alcohol and breastfeeding
After a short time, the mother’s milk contains the same alcohol content as the mother’s blood. Because breast milk is drank – and does not go directly into the baby’s blood – the amount of alcohol the child gets is very small and in practice is of no importance in sporadic and small consumption. However, if the mother drinks alcohol every day, the child may be affected, partly because the child breaks down the alcohol more slowly. If the alcoholic strength of the mother exceeds 0.5 cups, it has been shown that this inhibits the ejection of the milk and makes it difficult to empty the breast. The milk’s smell also changes, which causes the children to stop sucking quickly. Therefore, it is good to be restrained with alcohol even when breastfeeding!