Some of today’s mothers and grandmothers smoked or drank alcohol while they were pregnant. Their kids turned out OK, with no extra toes or learning disabilities.
So, is alcohol really bad for your baby? Or is there a safe way to sneak a cocktail or two during pregnancy?
The short answer: yes, alcohol could seriously harm your baby and impact your family’s quality of life. But some recent studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption, such as the occasional glass of red wine, actually aids an unborn child’s development.
Non-profit organizations like March of Dimes list Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as a leading cause of mental retardation in children. Nearly 40,000 children with FADS are born each year in the U.S., according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
FADS is considered preventable. Government health officials urge a woman to avoid drinking while pregnant. The more you drink, they say, the greater the risk for alcohol-related birth defects or behavioral disorders.
The U.S. Surgeon General says “no amount of alcohol consumption can be considered safe during pregnancy” and that alcohol adversely impacts a fetus in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. The damage to a fetus occurs after alcohol passes through the placenta. In the fetus’s undeveloped body, alcohol breaks down slowly — creating a higher alcohol level in the baby’s blood for a longer period of time than the mother experiences.