The Impact of Alcohol during Pregnancy
Alcohol is a legal substance, widely available and increasingly consumed in our society.
How does drinking alcohol during pregnancy affect the baby’s health?
During pregnancy, alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the placenta and the umbilical cord. Alcohol can harm the baby by affecting the way the baby develops and grows in the womb, the baby’s health at birth, and the child’s long-term health. For this reason, medical societies in several countries recommend abstaining from alcohol during this period. Indeed, consumption of alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, fetal growth restriction and low birth weight. In addition, it increases the likelihood of various malformations, behavioral and neurodevelopmental problems, some with lifelong implications.
What if I only drink a small amount?
Despite the widespread publicity about the harmful effects of alcohol during pregnancy, some people still question the need for total abstinence from alcohol and suggest that occasional drinking may be safe. However, based on current research, there is no confirmed safe threshold for alcohol exposure during pregnancy. All forms of alcohol (such as beer, wine or liquor) pose a similar risk and avoiding all alcohol is the best approach.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends abstinence from alcohol throughout pregnancy, and there is neither a safe dose nor a trimester in which its consumption is harmless.
If you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol, in order to minimize the risks to your baby. Drinking during pregnancy can cause long-term harm to your child. The more you drink, the greater the risk. If you are concerned or unsure about drinking alcohol during pregnancy, you should talk to your health care provider.