How Dangerous Is Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant?

Find out what experts have to say about drinking alcohol while pregnant.

If you are expecting, you’ve probably heard some anecdotal advice on drinking alcohol while pregnant. It’s common for friends, relatives and even strangers to offer their opinions, such as…

“My mom drank throughout her pregnancy; everyone did back then.”

“My doctor said an occasional beer is okay.”

“Mothers in France drink a glass of wine every night!”

All of the conflicting advice can feel overwhelming, so let’s learn from the experts and leave the rest. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no amount of alcohol has been proven to be safe for pregnant women and their babies. This includes all types of alcohol like beer, wine and liquor.

What are the dangers?

Because everything pregnant mothers consume passes through the umbilical cord to their baby, drinking alcohol can have dangerous effects. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy has been linked to miscarriage, stillbirth and birth defects.

Babies exposed to alcohol are at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). This syndrome can affect just about every area of development. Children with FAS have trouble with coordination, behaviour and attention. They often experience difficulty in school and learning disabilities. This syndrome can also affect vision, hearing, kidney function and heart health.

As a new mom, you’re no doubt doing everything you can to keep your baby safe and healthy (like avoiding certain foods). Save yourself any extra worry by steering clear of alcohol for the time being.

Is any amount of alcohol safe?

Though it is unclear what amount of alcohol causes these issues, the Canadian Paediatric Society recommends avoiding all alcohol during pregnancy. It’s also uncertain when these birth defects can occur, so there is no safe trimester to have alcohol.

If you believe that you had alcohol before realizing you were pregnant or have any concerns at all, it’s always best to check in with your trusted doctor. The two of you can discuss risks and make a plan to keep you and your baby healthy.

Next, learn whether or not you can drink coffee while pregnant.

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