Pregnant women should never drink alcohol.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a clear warning: Don’t do it. Ever. Not even a tiny bit. The group recently released a report identifying prenatal exposure to alcohol as the leading preventable cause of birth defects, as well as cognitive problems later in life.
Which is why it’s so alarming that more than 10% of pregnant women in the US said they drank alcohol in the past month, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The researchers also found that:
- About 30% reported binge drinking, meaning they consumed at least four alcoholic beverages on one occasion.
- Although binge drinking was more common among non-pregnant women than among pregnant women, of all the binge drinkers, those who were pregnant reported more episodes of binge drinking in the past month than those who were not pregnant (4.6 episodes for pregnant women versus 3.1 episodes for non-pregnant women).
- Among pregnant women who reported drinking, alcohol use was highest among those aged 35 to 44 (19%), college graduates (13%) and unmarried women (13%), the investigators found.
As NBC News pointed out, the report may underestimate how many women drink while pregnant. The researchers noted women may not want to admit to behavior they know is harmful, and women often do not realize they are pregnant for the first four weeks or sometimes longer.
Because alcohol passes from mother to fetus, experts advise women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant to just keep away from alcohol. “There is no safe amount, no safe time, and no safe type of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. It’s just not worth the risk,” says the study’s lead author Cheryl Tan, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.
A mother’s drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities (known as FASDs) for the baby that can last a lifetime. Some of the behavioral and intellectual issues of people with FASDs include:
- learning disabilities
- difficulty with attention
- speech and language delays
- low IQ
- poor reasoning and judgment skills
But remember: FASDs are completely preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy. Why take the risk? If you know a soon-to-be mom or a woman who is trying to conceive who needs to quit drinking, help is just a phone call away. The highly-trained clinical staff at Shorewood House can give you the guidance and advice you need to help you help your loved one.