Drinking heavily during pregnancy can cause serious and lifelong effects on your baby. Heavy or regular drinking while pregnant can cause foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) or foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

September is Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Month, September 9, is International FASD Day.

Amanda Kennett.jpgAmanda Kennett, Associate Director of Midwifery and Gynaecology, at NCIC, said: “While FASD is less severe than FAS, children with FASD can have learning difficulties, problems with behaviour, physical disability, and emotional and psychiatric problems that last a lifetime. Whether or not a baby is affected mildly or severely with FASD is directly linked to how much and how often a woman drinks during pregnancy.

“If you drink alcohol during pregnancy, some alcohol will pass through the placenta to your baby. The more you drink the greater is the risk of harm to your baby.

“Heavy drinking of alcohol or drinking alcohol regularly in pregnancy is harmful for babies. It can result in a serious condition called foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) which usually results in severe physical and mental disability for children.

“There is no proven safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink during pregnancy. Avoiding alcohol during pregnancy is the safest option."

Drinking heavily during pregnancy can:

  • increase your chances of miscarriage
  • affect the way your baby develops in the uterus and, in particular, the way your baby’s brain develops
  • affect the way your baby grows in the uterus by causing the placenta not to work as well as it should – this is known as foetal growth restriction
  • increase the risk of a stillbirth
  • increase the risk of premature labour
  • make your baby more prone to illness in infancy and in childhood, and also as an adult
  • cause foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) or foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)

Amanda added: “The more you drink, the more your baby’s growth will be affected and the less healthy your baby will be. However, if you cut down or stop drinking altogether, your baby will start to grow at a normal rate. Stopping drinking at any point during pregnancy can be beneficial. However, in some instances, the effects of heavy drinking on your baby cannot be reversed.”

For more information, see the resources available from NOFAS (National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome-UK) at: www.nofas-uk.org

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