Drinking alcohol during pregnancy amounts to sharing your cocktail with your tiny, developing baby. The same level of alcohol you ingest is also ingested by your baby, says the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Why is alcohol consumption during pregnancy so bad for your baby? Mainly because alcohol consumption during pregnancy affects the cognitive and physical development of your developing baby. The highest risk from alcohol to your developing baby is during the earliest stages of pregnancy, when baby's critical organs are forming, and cells are dividing very rapidly. The more you drink during pregnancy, the greater health risks faced by you and your baby. Since there is no known level of safe alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the ACOG recommends eliminating all alcohol consumption during pregnancy to optimize your chances for a healthy baby.
According to ACOG, if you are a heavy drinker before, during, or after pregnancy you face a slew of serious health problems such as:
- Vitamin and mineral deficiency
- Damage to your internal organs including your brain, liver, and digestive system
- Increased risk of certain types of cancer
For baby, the effects of alcohol abuse include:
- Fetal alcohol syndrome, the most common cause of mental retardation in babies
- Physical defects
- Low birth weight
- Decreased attention span
If you find yourself unable to stop drinking and you're pregnant, don't be ashamed to talk with your obstetrician. She can recommend ways for you to find the help and support you need to stop drinking for your sake, and for your precious baby's sake.
Tobacco, Alcohol, Drugs and Pregnancy. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Last accessed 10/8/10.