Alcohol and Drug Abuse During Pregnancy
Do the terms "alcohol and pregnancy" ever make sense?
Is drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy ever a "good" thing?
Stated differently, are there any verifiable "benefits" for drug abuse and drinking alcohol during
The alcohol and pregnancy and drug abuse research literature clearly demonstrates that the answers to these
questions is "no."
It is unknown precisely how much a pregnant woman can use and abuse drugs and how much alcohol can be
ingested before serious birth defects result.
This much, however, is known: alcohol-related and drug-related birth defects are 100% avoidable simply by
abstaining from abusing drugs or drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
Since this is the case, why not simply refrain from abusing drugs and drinking alcohol during
Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol During Pregnancy?
Is it safe to drink alcohol during pregnancy? Do the words "alcohol and pregnancy" ever result in something
positive? In a word, no.
Why? Because drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a number of dangerous consequences and harmful effects
on the baby.
For example, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause mental retardation and/or learning and behavioral
problems that can last a lifetime.
Not surprisingly, the exact amount of alcohol that is required to cause these problems is not precisely
What IS known, however, is that these alcohol-related birth defects are 100% avoidable, simply by refraining
from drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
As a consequence, the safest course for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant is abstaining from
Alcohol-Related Mental and Physical Birth Defects
As articulated above, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to mental and physical birth defects.
Unfortunately, every year in the United States, more than 40,000 babies are born with some degree of
Although many, if not most, women know that heavy drinking during pregnancy can lead to birth defects, many
woman, apparently, are unaware or do not comprehend that restrained or even light drinking can seriously impair or
damage the unborn fetus.
Since no level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been proven safe, the March of Dimes
strongly urges pregnant women to abstain from all alcohol, including beer, wine, hard liquor, and wine coolers
during their entire pregnancy AND also while nursing.
Moreover, since some women remain unaware of their pregnancy for 2 or more months, women who are pregnant or
those who are trying to become pregnant should refrain from alcoholic beverages, according to the March of
To make the case for alcohol abstention and pregnancy even stronger, according to recent studies, women who
continue to drink even small amounts of alcohol while trying to become pregnant, might reduce their chances of
Possible Lifelong Damage To the Baby
When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol passes quickly through the placenta to her unborn baby.
Due to the fact that the unborn baby's body is immature and underdeveloped, the baby's body breaks down alcohol
significantly more slowly than in an adult's body.
As a result, the alcohol level in the baby's blood can be significantly higher and remain elevated significantly
longer than the alcohol level in the mother's blood. This unhealthy situation can lead to lifelong damage to the
The Hazards of Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year in the United States, between 1,300
and 8,000 babies are born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Fetal alcohol syndrome is a combination of physical and mental birth defects that affects roughly 6% of the
babies born to women who are alcoholics or alcohol abusers.
These women either have repeated episodes of binge drinking or drink excessively throughout pregnancy.
Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the most common known causes of infant mental retardation, and is the only
cause of this deformity that is preventable.
Babies with classic fetal alcohol syndrome are born abnormally small and typically do not manifest normal growth
as they get older.
Babies with fetal alcohol syndrome may be born with small eyes, a short or upturned nose, small, flat
Moreover, the organs, especially the heart, of the babies with fetal alcohol syndrome may not develop
Not only this, but many babies with fetal alcohol syndrome also have underdeveloped brains that are small and
As a result, most babies with fetal alcohol syndrome have some degree of mental disability, poor coordination, a
short attention span, and behavioral problems.
Unfortunately, even if not mentally retarded, adolescents and adults with fetal alcohol syndrome usually have
different degrees of emotional and behavioral problems and frequently find it difficult to live independently and
to maintain employment.
Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?
According to one study, it was found that the breastfed babies of women who had one or more drinks a day were
slightly slower in acquiring motor skills (such as crawling and walking) than babies who had not been exposed to
Since small amounts of alcohol from the mother can get into breast milk and passed on to the baby, and since
excessive amounts of alcohol may impede the flow of milk from the breast, the March of Dimes strongly
urges women to refrain from drinking alcohol while they are nursing.
Where Can a Woman Get Help in Stopping
Some women find it difficult to stop drinking. The following organizations may help with this problem:
Drug Abuse and Pregnancy
Studies have shown that consumption of illegal drugs (such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, BSD and PCP, and
methamphetamines) during pregnancy can result in premature labor, placental abruption, fetal death, miscarriage,
low birth-weight, and maternal death.
Since drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy can lead to debilitating physical, social, and psychological
problems that can last a lifetime (not to mention the death of the baby and or the mother), it is critical that
women who are pregnant, those who want to become pregnant, and women who are nursing their babies totally abstain
from taking illegal drugs and drinking alcohol.
How Can I Get Drug Abuse Help?
You can get help from support groups, treatment programs, and from counseling.
Popular groups include the 12- step program with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
Numbers that can help you locate a treatment center include the following:
- National Drug Help Hotline 1-800-662-4357
- National Alcohol and Drug Dependence Hopeline 1-800-622-2255
Conclusion: Alcohol and Drug Abuse During Pregnancy
All teenagers and adults need to know that drug abuse and drinking alcohol during pregnancy not only lead to
damaging consequences and harmful effects on the baby, but they can also be fatal.
In a word, "drugs and pregnancy" and "alcohol and pregnancy" don't make any sense from a realistic or from a
common sense perspective.
Even though it is not known exactly how much alcohol can be consumed or how much a pregnant woman can abuse
drugs before serious birth defects occur, this much, nevertheless, is known: drug-related and alcohol-related birth
defects are 100% avoidable simply by refraining from abusing drugs or drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
In short, drug abuse and drinking alcohol during pregnancy should be avoided at all costs.