Alcohol & pregnancy: How much is too much?
People often assume that having an occasional glass of wine while pregnant is okay, but just how much alcohol can a pregnant woman consume before it becomes unsafe?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no known safe amount or type of alcohol to drink during any point of pregnancy.
Citing current literature, Dr. Jude Duval, a maternal fetal medicine physician at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, stresses there is no point during development when prenatal alcohol exposure lacks consequences.
“Therefore, it is best to avoid drinking as one is attempting to conceive and during pregnancy,” says Dr. Duval.
Damage to a baby’s growth and development can even occur before a woman knows she is pregnant.
Dr. Duval explains that the more severe birth defects correlate with exposure to alcohol in the first month of the pregnancy, usually before a home pregnancy test can be performed.
While every pregnancy and woman is different, the safest practice is to avoid alcohol use if you are trying to get pregnant or are sexually active without using a contraceptive. Ultimately, alcohol use can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which is estimated to affect about 2.3% of children around the world.
Dr. Duval defines FASD as a “general term that describes a range of physical, mental, behavioral and cognitive effects that can occur in individuals with prenatal alcohol exposure.”
The CDC provides a list of symptoms babies may show if exposed to alcohol in the womb, including:
- Small head size
- Shorter than average height
- Poor coordination
- Sleep and sucking problems
- Problems with heart, kidney or bones
- Vision or hearing problems
To be safe, avoid using alcohol and consult your physician about do’s and don’ts of pregnancy.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.