The Effects of Alcohol During Pregnancy
Think your life's tough? Drinking alcohol makes life tough for a baby, long before you even know that you're pregnant.
When you are pregnant, everything you eat and drink affects your baby's growth and development. If you drink alcohol, it can hurt your baby's brain. Your baby may have physical and behavioral problems that can last for the rest of his or her life. Children born with the most serious problems caused by alcohol have fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Even a little can give a baby brain damage.
No one knows exactly how much alcohol you have to drink to cause FAS. The level may be different for every woman. Even a little alcohol can cause alcohol-related effects, such as learning disabilities and behavior problems. So experts agree that the best thing to do is to not drink alcohol at all while you are pregnant - that includes beer, wine, wine coolers and all kinds of liquor.
Even before you know you're pregnant.
Of course, most women don't drink after they learn they're pregnant. That's not enough. Research shows that the baby is affected by alcohol even in the first month or two of pregnancy, when most women don't know they're pregnant. Alcohol can damage the baby at any stage of pregnancy.
Women may be drinking alcohol and not knowing the harm they are doing. And by the time they find out they're pregnant, damage might already be done. Continuing to drink will cause more injury to the baby, so women who need help quitting should get help right away.
If you are trying to get pregnant or think you might be pregnant - even if there's just a chance - stop drinking right away.
Partying and having unprotected sex do not mix.
Here's the good news: FAS and other alcohol-related effects are 100 percent preventable if a woman doesn't drink while she is pregnant.
So what can you do?
There are many things you can do. If you drink and are sexually active, use birth control every time.
If you have a problem stopping, get help. Don't wait until you know for sure, because by the time you know you're pregnant, the harm to your baby may have already begun.